Members of the European Parliament criticised the Commission's 'inertia' in establishing a European force capable of reacting immediately to emergencies and called for "concrete proposals". They also want financial assistance to be made more easily available in the light of the UK floods and Greek fires over the summer.
The EU is considering setting up a permanent rapid reaction force to deal with the blazing forest fires that are raging throughout Southern Europe, as national fire-fighting resources are stretched to the limit.
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.
On eve of NATO's Prague summit, questions abound around the relationship between the alliance's proposed cutting-edge rapid-reaction force and Europe's plan to set up a rapid deployment force of its own.
At their Prague summit on 21-22 November, the 19 Member States of NATO intend to invite seven eastern European countries to join. They are also expected to make commitments and define timeframes for providing specific new military capabilities.
EU Foreign and Defence Ministers are meeting in Brussels on 14 May to discuss progress on creating a Rapid Reaction Force. Greece is blocking plans on EU-NATO defence co-operation because of its concerns over Turkey's influence on EU defence policy, and no agreement is likely before the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Rejkyavik on 14-15 May.
The Spanish Presidency intends to give a boost to the European
Security and Defence Policy as a means to increase Europe's
presence on the international stage. The Spanish Prime Minister,
José María Aznar said that fight against terrorism should become
one of the policy's objectives.
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.