Monday

27th May 2019

Parliament set to vote on common defence

  • Critics say the implementation of the report would weaken NATO (Photo: NATO)

The European Parliament is due to vote today, Thursday, on a report which calls for a radical overhaul of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy, the report has been welcomed by the Greek Presidency as a "source of inspiration".

'The New European Security and Defence Architecture - Priorities and Deficiencies', a report drafted by French MEP and retired general Philippe Morillon, was debated by Parliamentarians on Wednesday.

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The 51-article report sets out ideas and principles for the establishment of a more effective European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

General Morillon calls for, amongst other things, an EU defence clause (for those states willing to take this responsibility on), additional capabilities which will strengthen NATO as well reinforcing its European pillar, a common defence budget and a common armaments agency.

Additionally, the report suggests the establishment of a joint military college and the creation of 5,000-strong force permanently ready to intervene for humanitarian and rescue operations.

The representative of the Greek EU Presidency positively welcomed the report and defined it a "source of inspiration".

The Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten also praised the report particularly for recognising the importance of the civilian aspects of crisis management.

Mr Patten said that the report was "almost painfully timed, as the EU seeks to make a greater contribution to international affairs."

MEPs in general had a positive response to Mr Morillon's work feeling that, given current events in Iraq, it could hardly be more timely.

French MEP Catherine Lalumiere, stressed positive aspects of the report, such as the need to increase military capabilities and to develop closer co-operation between NATO and the EU.

UK Liberal Graham Watson declared that "with this report the Parliament can send a strong message to the Convention [the body currently drawing up an EU constitution]."

But strong criticism was voiced by UK Conservative MEP, Geoffrey Van Orden, who accused the report of being a way "to complicate transatlantic relations and to shift away responsibilities from NATO to the EU."

"Mr Morillon wants to communitarise ESDP and talks about a European army: this represents a threat to NATO", Mr Van Orden maintained.

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