Thursday

29th Feb 2024

Group of five calls for EU military headquarters

  • EU military missions - like the anti-pirate Atalanta operation - are currently run out of borrowed premises in individual member states on a temporary basis (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Five of the biggest EU countries have tasked foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton with making plans for an EU military command centre despite British objections.

Foreign ministers from the group - France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain - in a letter dated 2 September and seen by EUobserver urged Ashton to: "Examine all institutional and legal options available to member states, inlcuding permanent structred co-operation, to develop critical CSDP [Common Security and Defence Policy] capabilities, notably a permanent planning and conduct capability."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

They added: "We would appreciate if you present conclusions of the work ... in early autumn with a view to achieving tangible results by the end of the year."

Permanent structred co-operation is an EU treaty option that allows nine or more member states to press ahead on an EU project without the others.

It was first used earlier this year on EU divorce and patent laws.

Setting up a non-EU-27 command hub for EU military missions would be a major step toward what EU jargon calls a "multi-speed Europe". But plans afoot to create joint economic governance among the 17 euro-using countries are likely to put even the military project into the shade.

The letter justified the plan by reference to the Arab Spring and the economic crisis.

"Instability and the proliferation of crises on the one side, and scarcity of resources on the other side, have significantly raised expectations as to the effectiveness and credibility of EU actions," it said. The ministers added that EU talks in July "proved there is a strong political will" to go ahead.

The initiative is a long-cherished one by Poland and France, which wants to go beyond EU battlegroups - temporary teams of troops from two or three EU countries ready to be sent to hot-spots at short notice - toward an EU army.

It comes after the conflict in Libya showed that the US, individual EU countries such as France and the UK, as well as Nato, pitch the EU into the background in the case of war.

Ashton drew up a hybrid EU military-humanitarian mission - Eufor Libya - but the project never got off the ground.

The US has in the past said it wants the EU to do more in managing world crises. But the group of five risk angering the UK, the EU's biggest military spender, which forcefully criticised the idea in July.

"I have made very clear that the United Kingdom will not agree to a permanent operational HQ. We will not agree to it now and we will not agree to it in the future. That is a red line," UK foreign miniser William Hague said at the time. Duplicating Nato structures is a "waste of money", he added.

EU firms join gold rush on drones

EU firms have joined the gold rush on military and civilian unmanned aerial vehicles - drones. But ethical and legal questions dog the technology.

Letter

Unsubstantiated tittle-tattle from anonymous 'sources'

Your article "Staff leaving EU diplomatic service amid bad working conditions" is riddled with inaccuracies and appears to be based entirely on unsubstantiated tittle-tattle from anonymous 'sources'.

Letter

Right of Reply: The EU-ACP Samoa agreement

Portuguese S&D MEP Carlos Zorrinho, chair of the delegation to the OACPS-EU joint parliamentary assembly, responds to EUobserver's piece Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact.

Opinion

The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse

With Alexei Navalny's funeral in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin's regime haven't just insulted his mother and widow with their treatment of his corpse — they've breached international treaties and conventions.

Opinion

The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse

With Alexei Navalny's funeral in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin's regime haven't just insulted his mother and widow with their treatment of his corpse — they've breached international treaties and conventions.

Von der Leyen appeals for 'new EU defence mindset'

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen urged "a new European defence mindset" to strengthen the bloc's defence capabilities. But will her latest proposal, to use Russian assets for Ukraine's military needs, stir up controversy?

Latest News

  1. Right of Reply: The EU-ACP Samoa agreement
  2. The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse
  3. Belgium braces for Flemish far-right gains, deadlock looms
  4. Podcast: Hyperlocal meets supranational
  5. Von der Leyen appeals for 'new EU defence mindset'
  6. EU supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it
  7. Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?
  8. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us