EU defence force under threat

Greece has blocked the agreement between EU diplomats and Turkey on European rapid reaction force. The agreement, negotiated by British, Dutch and American diplomats, would give the EU access to NATO’s military equipment and planning capabilities.

The Greek Foreign Minister, George Papandreou, told his
counterparts at the EU Council meeting in Brussels on 10 December,
that Athens had problems with the agreement because it failed to
address Greece’s security concerns.

That prevented the EU foreign ministers from
adopting the agreement before the weekend summit of Laeken (14-15
December). The EU and NATO have been planning to exchange letters
defining the extent of their co-operation.


Greece demands assurances from the EU that the new
rapid reaction force will not be used in any way that could damage
Greece's security interests, especially in relation to Cyprus and
the Aegean where Greece is in dispute with Turkey. Greece also
wants guarantees that the deal with Turkey, who is not an EU
member, would not undermine the EU's autonomy in the area of


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.


The EU is planning to declare its 60,000-strong rapid
reaction force operational at the summit of Laeken on 14-15


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