Belgium proposes mutual security guarantees for EU members

Belgium’s Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, has proposed that the EU establishes military headquarters and prepares for collective response in case of a large-scale terrorist attack.

In a letter to the French President Jacques Chirac and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Verhofstadt deplores that the EU security and defence policy has not made much progress in the recent months.

He makes several proposals to revive the drive for a common EU security and defence policy:

  • the future EU constitutional treaty should include mutual security guarantees;
  • the Member States should be prepared for a collective response in the event of an attack;
  • the EU should set up its military headquarters with its own budget and integrated command, and put them in charge of all multinational forces within the Union;
  • the European Commission should makes proposals for the creation of a single economic area of the defence industry.

 

The EU hopes that the dispute with Turkey could be resolved over the following months, with the mediation of Greece, who is currently running the EU security and defence policy.

The EU plans to assume the command over the NATO-led peace-keeping operation in Macedonia in the autumn. However, these plans could be undermined by the persisting dispute with Turkey.

 

European leaders agreed on a common defence strategy at the Cologne Summit on 3 June 1999. The 15 Member States of the EU formally decided to create a rapid reaction force (RRF) of 60,000 men at the Nice European Council in December 2000. Some progress has been made in creating a military structure within the Council of Ministers in 2001. The RRF should be operational from 2003 on, concentrating on humanitarian relief, peace-keeping and crisis-management tasks independently of NATO.

Progress on EU security and defence policy has been blocked for two years because Turkey, a NATO but not an EU member, objects to an agreement that would allow EU forces to use NATO military assets.

 

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