The foreign and defence ministers of the 15 EU Member States recognised the need to speed up their common defence policy in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks. The EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana urged the Member States to put more resources into the planned rapid reaction force, to be set up by 2003.
Mr Solana said that while a lot has been achieved over the last year, some shortcomings still have to be addressed, such as command and control structures, and reconnaissance capabilities.
The Member States have so far committed 100,000 troops, 400 planes and 100 ships for the rapid reaction force. But they still suffer serious strategic shortcomings, such as lack of naval transport and airlift, guided missiles to destroy enemy’s air defences, electronic warfare capabilities and secure communications.
The EU is counting on NATO to provide its strategic capabilities to resolve potential European crises. However, the deal between the two organisations is blocked by Turkey, a NATO but not an EU member, who wants to participate in the EU’s decision-making on defence issues.
In a separate meeting, EU foreign and interior ministers agreed to create a 5,000-strong joint police force by 2003. The police force will play a role in international crisis management operations, such as the one in Kosovo.