Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Euro-Army cometh

Back on 13 June - three days before the European Council in Brussels that was so spectacularly to fail - the General Affairs Council met. This is the name given to the most senior of the Council of Ministers' committees, this one comprising the foreign affairs ministers of the EU. But then, entirely understandably, the world's attention was on two issues: the response to the Dutch and French referendums and the EU budget.

It was then that the news came out that the constitution was to be "ditched" at the European Council, without any formal announcement. Unsurprisingly, this caught the media imagination, and was also the focus of attention on this blog.

But, as is so often the case with Community affairs, while the headline issues grab the attention, there are so often other issues down the agenda which have as much, if not more long-term importance, that never get noticed.

In this case, one such was Council Document 10032/05, dated 13 June 2005: the Presidency report on the ESDP - otherwise known as the European Security and Defence Policy – which was approved by the Council at the same meeting. It sets out the short to medium-term strategy for European defence integration. At 28 pages, this document is not on the official Council site as it is marked "limite", meaning restricted circulation. A review of the contents reveals why.

The document starts with a review of current EU operations. While we have covered some, if not all, in previous postings, to see them all listed together brings home quite how far the tentacles of the EU actions, including security mission, have spread. There are, have been recently, or are projected, forces or initiatives in the following areas:

1. The EU force deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the framework of the ALTHEA military operation.
2. During the first half of 2005, the EU Police Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUPM).
3. The EUPOL PROXIMA operation in the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.
4. The EUJUST THEMIS mission in Georgia.
5. The EUPOL Kinshasa – the first civilian crisis management mission in Africa, officially launched on 12 April 2005.
6. The EU mission to provide advice and assistance for security sector reform in the DR Congo, known as EUSEC, contributing to integration of the army in the DRC.
7. The Integrated Rule of Law mission for Iraq, EUJUST LEX.
8. Support for the African Union mission in Sudan (AMIS).
9. An EU support office for the Palestinian Police (EU COPPS).
10. EU support for the Georgian authorities in the follow-up to the OSCE border monitoring mission, with an EUSR office in Tbilisi.
11. Support for the Crisis Management Initiative in relation to the peace process in Aceh.
12. Preparations for responding to the African Union request for a putative African Union mission in Somalia.
However, the first real meat of the report comes on page 9., with the news that "work has continued on establishing EU battlegroups which are part of the rapid response capability. A Battlegroups Coordination Conference was held on 11 May 2005 when it was noted that the commitments made by the member states will enable the objective set for the initial period of operational capability for 2005 and 2006 to be met."

One battlegroup will be permanently available for the first two years of full operational capability, 2007 and 2008, except in the second half of 2007, for which a contribution is still awaited. Preliminary indications were provided on the availability of Battlegroups for the period beyond 2008.

Crucially, conceptual work on battlegroups has continued, with standards and criteria which will apply from 1 January 2007. This is when full operational capability begins. Initial command and control systems for the battlegroups have been developed, and work is continuing on training and certification, on logistics and on strategic mobility. Additionally, work has been conducted on "the acceleration of the decision-making and planning process for EU rapid response operations". The idea to launch a battlegroup within five days from approval of "the crisis management concept" by the Council.

The Council also approved a "requirements catalogue" which set out "strategic planning hypotheses", the five "illustrative scenarios" and an initial list of the capabilities required to meet the aims set in the 2010 Headline Goal. Here, the reference to the "2010 Headline Goal" is interesting, as this sets out in general terms the military shortfalls that the EU considers it needs to address. That document is available here.

Work has begun on the development of an information collection system and an operational analysis instrument for the EU's needs and other work will be carried out "in compliance with the EU capability development mechanism" to examine options and to ensure that "these tools provide the best possible response to specific EU requirements."

Then we have a "European Capability Action Plan (ECAP)". An evaluation was completed, which the Council approved. This contained "a detailed review of the Project Groups" which will in future work more closely with the European Defence Agency. Now, an updated "Capability Improvement Chart" has been drawn up, to "keep the public and media informed."

It is this document, available here which really illustrates the extent of the EU’s appetite. It is a "shopping list" of some 64 military capabilities, which include: attack helicopter battalions; carrier-based air power; tactical ballistic missile defence; light/medium armoured squadrons; mechanised infantry battalions and field artillery battalions.

With that, work on the "global approach on deployability" has continued, with a view to improving the ability of the EU to deploy forces. And, in a masterpiece of jargon, we get:

The Presidency presented a non-paper on the maritime dimension of the 2010 Headline Goal including a proposed road map. The purpose of this non-paper was to initiate a process to define the terms of reference and methodology of a study designed to improve information on the Member States' maritime requirements and forces.
Much is then made of the European Defence Agency (EDA), which has started work on four flagship projects in its four areas of operation: C3 (command, control and communications) in the area of capabilities; combat armoured vehicles in the armaments area; the European defence equipment market, in liaison with the European Commission, for the area of industry and the market; and drones for the research and technology area.

In addition, the Council "received with satisfaction" the action plan on the creation of a European defence equipment market, while the Steering Board of the EDA approved a plan to transfer of the research and technology responsibilities of the Western European Armaments Organisation to its own organisation.

Then there is "the concept of EU training in the field of ESDP". Courses were organised in the EU Training Programme in ESDP for the years 2005 to 2007. The pilot course – a high-level ESDP course – of the future European Security and Defence College ended in March, and an orientation course on the ESDP was organised in Brussels from 28 February to 4 March. On that basis, a final report on training in the ESDP area and an analysis of requirements in this area have been drawn up and approved by the Political and Security Committee. Thus the arrangements for the functioning of the European Security and Defence College have been defined. The necessary conditions to establish the College have been fulfilled in preparation for the 2005/2006 academic year.

And, "in order to ensure that security and defence aspects are taken into account in the European space programme," inter-pillar exchanges of information took place. An initial road map was established for the effective implementation of the stages identified in the document on European space policy entitled "ESDP and Space" approved by the Council in November 2004.

Together with a forward action plan for the UK presidency, and much more, this whole report forms a template for a comprehensive "war fighting" capability. This is no mere peacekeeping force – the Euro-Army cometh.

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