EU defence policy must involve all members, say Germany and Greece

Two weeks before the scheduled defence mini-summit of Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg, pressure is mounting within the EU for the extension of the initiative to “as many members as possible”.

According to a proposal drafted by Belgium, the four countries invited to a mini-summit on 29 April should increase defence spending and merge their defence initiatives in an effort to breathe life into a European Security and Defence Union. To date, the EU's defence ambitions have materialised mostly through jointly staged peacekeeping operations.

The plan calls on the participating states to commit spending at least 0.25 per cent of their GDP on boosting their defence forces, effective 2004. By 2012, this figure should increase to 0.45 per cent. All four invited participants have expressed support for most of the Belgian proposals.

Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg are scheduled to hold the mini-summit on the defence boosting initiative on 29 April. The list of participants does not include Europe's military heavyweight Britain. However, the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner, Antonio Vitorino, said the four-way summit should be turned into a full-blown EU event attended by all 15 Member States. Greek Defence Minister Yannis Papantoniou said the EU's defence policy must include "as many members as possible" in order to be taken seriously. Italy, which takes over the EU's presidency in July, has also asked that the meeting be opened to all EU members. The German Defence Minister, Peter Struck, also expressed opposition to a "single cavalier" of only a small group of countries.


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