The defence ministers of the 15 EU Member States discussed preparations for taking over the command of the international peace-keeping force in Macedonia later this year.
At their informal meeting in Zaragoza on 23 March, the ministers agreed to continue looking for a solution that will enable a formal agreement to be reached with NATO. The agreement should enable the EU to carry out peacekeeping missions using NATO resources.
The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, said that the EU will need this accord before taking over the command of NATO’s mission in Macedonia this autumn.
The ministers also dealt with the issue of closer cooperation between the European armaments industries, deemed necessary to overcome the region’s serious lack of military capability. The target date for a full readiness of the EU Rapid Reaction Force is 2003, but some EU diplomats believe that it will not be achieved before 2012.
The ministers agreed there was a need for restructuring, standardisation and harmonisation in the area of defence.