EU leaders approve ‘big three’ deal on defence

The EU’s leaders have approved a plan presented by Britain, France and Germany on EU defence policy. The plan is regarded as acceptable to the US and NATO.

On 12 December 2003, European leaders approved plans presented by Britain, France and Germany to create an autonomous EU military planning cell in early 2004. The defence deal was reached on 11 December 2003. The agreement will enable the EU to set up a military planning cell to run crisis management operations when NATO is not involved. It was sealed after the US accepted Britain's assurances that the plan would not undermine NATO. NATO Secretary-General George Robertson welcomed the agreement and made it clear that the US would not be raising any objections.

The deal proposes that Europe has its own limited capability to conduct military operations. According to the agreement, the EU would first turn to NATO, then to Member States' national headquarters to plan and run an EU military operation.

"In certain circumstances, the Council (of EU foreign ministers) may decide, upon the advice of the Military Committee, to draw on the collective capacity of the EU military staff, in particular where a joint civil/military response is required and where no national HQ is identified," the text says.


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