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EU Military Endorsed

By Golino, Louis R. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 8, 2001 | Go to article overview

EU Military Endorsed


Golino, Louis R., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The United States should welcome the European Union's efforts to establish a rapid-reaction force because it will make Europe a better U.S. partner and help promote a more balanced trans-Atlantic relationship, according to a new report from a London think tank.

The report, "Europe's Military Revolution," argues that while the United States will remain the senior partner within the Atlantic alliance, America should accord Europe greater political weight if and when Europeans deliver on their promised military capabilities.

"An alliance in which the Europeans feel that they are real partners, and in which the Americans feel that they do not have to carry an unfair burden, would be the best basis for their future relationship," it said.

The report by the London-based Center for European Reform (CER) was prepared by Charles Grant, CER director; Christoph Bertram, director of Germany's largest foreign policy think tank; and French analyst Gilles Andreani, a former head of policy planning for the French Foreign Ministry.

The CER has close ties with the government of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It reportedly influenced Mr. Blair's 1998 decision to propose an EU defense initiative focused on actual military capabilities rather than new institutions.

`SINGLE VOICE' SOUGHT

The report was issued March 1 during a private seminar in Brussels with the authors and Javier Solana, the EU's foreign and security policy chief, and Chris Patten, the European commissioner for foreign relations.

It says the mandate of these two EU officials overlaps too much, and having both posts fragments policy making. To help establish an effective common foreign policy, it suggests that these two positions be merged into one, which would be the single voice of the EU abroad.

Until December 1998 when Mr. Blair and French President Jacques Chirac put forward the EU defense plan, the EU had been exclusively and self-consciously a civilian power. It was frequently referred to as a economic giant and a political pygmy. But, say these writers, the European military revolution is raising Europe's global profile and will force the EU to develop a military and security culture - something it has lacked since its inception.

What is known as "the headline goal" refers to establishing by 2003 a rapid-reaction force of corps size (60,000 troops) with naval and air support that can be deployed within a month and sustained in the field for a year.

The CER analysis says that to achieve this objective, European governments will need to overcome their tendency to devote inadequate resources to defense.

ADVICE ON DEFENSE FUNDS

It also maintains that Europeans should allocate what they do spend in a more rational way. In particular, each state needs to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense and devote a quarter of its defense expenditures on research and development and procurement.

The authors suggest creation of an EU defense budget "to finance the cost of common weapons programs, common capabilities or forces, and EU military missions." They also argue that peer pressure can help encourage further European military reform and make two suggestions toward this end.

One is to create a monitoring group to evaluate each nation's progress in achieving defense reform; this would further the recent convergence of European military forces and doctrines the report highlights.

The other is that "the EU's defense ministers should meet on their own at least twice a year, as a Council of Defense Ministers."

Mr. Solana, the EU foreign and security policy chief, has also made the latter proposal and argued that it is essential to a serious EU defense capability.

INSTITUTIONAL REFORM

The report says that the planned EU defense role will require integration of the intergovernmental and supranational aspects of the common European security policy.

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