Defence ministers: EU force still hamstrung by ‘recognised shortfalls’

Germany, France and Italy urged the easing of the EU’s tough public spending rules, and Berlin pledged an additional 1,000 troops to an EU Rapid Reaction Force at the EU defence ministers’ meeting on 19 May.

The aim of the Military Capability Conference was to define prompt action to try and bridge "recognised capability shortfalls" hampering full deployment of the 60,000-strong European military force. The number of recognised shortfalls was reduced from 42 to 26 since the last Capability Conference in November 2001 (see alsoEURACTIV 20 November 2001).

Ministers said that while the EU already had the troops and equipment needed to take on a full range of crisis-management and humanitarian tasks, these operations were hamstrung by "recognised shortfalls" and constraints related to so-called high-risk operations "at the upper end of the spectrum of scale and intensity".

According to EU security chief Javier Solana, "more resources" were needed, as well as "political will" to improve collective capability. On 19 May, the Union's defence ministers pledged their "strong commitment" to reduce the limitations through "all possible means".

The EU has less than six months to go before meeting the "Headline Goal". It envisages a 60,000-strong Rapid Reaction Force ready to be deployed within 60 days and remain on the ground for up to a year.


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