Monday

27th May 2019

EU Balkan mission under time pressure

The North Atlantic Council and the EU Political and Security Committee met on Wednesday, 5 February to discuss the situation in the Western Balkans and, above all, the agreement for EU access to NATO assets, the so-called `Berlin Plus' agreement. This was already adopted in principle at the EU Copenhagen Summit last December, but details still have to be hammered out. If the agreement is finalised by the end of February, the EU will be able in March to take over the command of operation Allied Harmony from NATO in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Solana: EU to take over from NATO in March

Speaking to journalists, NATO Secretary General George Robertson declared that `NATO sees a clear role ahead for the EU in operation Allied Harmony and perhaps also in the Stabilisation Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the end of the year'. He also said that other issues were discussed, such as co-operation against terrorism and civil emergency planning. According to Javier Solana, EU High Representative for CFSP, `Berlin Plus will be produced on time so that the EU will be able to take over from NATO in March'. Neither Mr Robertson nor Mr Solana hinted at what the persisting obstacles are.

The sticking point

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The sticking point might still be EU access to classified material and information as four EU members - Austria, Ireland, Finland and Sweden - do not belong to NATO because of neutrality. The European Parliament is reported to be particularly keen on having democratic control over EU security and defence issues, which might imply some sort of access to NATO classified material. NATO might be loathe to grant this access given the presence of the four neutral states. A special committee of four trusted MEPs has been selected to be given access to this material. This committee includes a representative from Sweden, Liberal MEP Cecilia Malmström.

The other members elected for the special committee are French Christian Democrat MEP Philippe Morillon, Commander of the United Nations Forces in Bosnia (1992-1993) and Commander of the Rapid Reaction Force (1994-1996), German Social Democrat MEP Jannis Sakellariou, who was the academic director at the University of the Armed Forces, Munich (1976-1984) and French Socialist MEP Catherine Lalumiere.

The group is chaired by Elmar Brok, German Christian Democrat and chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy.

These selected MEPs will now have to confront their respective national legislation procedures in order to have access to the classified documents. They will also have to be checked by their national intelligence services with the view of starting their work as soon as the NATO-EU agreement is in place.

If the obstacles to the finalisation of Berlin Plus are not removed, the first ever EU military operation could be delayed until June.

EU to take the lead in Macedonia in March

The European Union will take over NATO's Task Force Fox mission in Macedonia next March. To discuss these matters the EU Political Security Committee will meet with their colleagues from the North Atlantic Committee on ambassador’s level today, Wednesday 5 February at the EU Council in Brussels.

"Essentially there are no real problems for the transition" a NATO official said, "we are working on technical aspects with experts from both sides".

EUobserved

Jubilant Greens in party mood after first EP projection

A party like atmosphere has seized the Greens as a packed room of people discuss around food and drinks. Elsewhere, the centre-right EPP appear sombre, as they huddle around their computers behind closed doors.

2019 European election results

With 427 million possible voters, across 28 EU countries, electing 751 MEPs, it's the second-biggest democratic vote in the world. The results will come thick and fast - follow them here, via the European Parliament's official results site.

News in Brief

  1. Timmermans calls for 'progressive alliance'
  2. Catalonia's Puigdemont wins MEP seat
  3. Weber opens door to alliance with greens and liberals
  4. Tsipras calls snap Greek election after EP defeat
  5. Polish ruling PiS takes lion's share of EU vote
  6. Romanian voters punish ruling PSD party
  7. First official EP projection: EPP remain top, Greens fourth
  8. UK forecast puts Brexit Party on top, with 24 seats

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Populists' EU breakthrough fails, greens and liberals gain
  2. Jubilant Greens in party mood after first EP projection
  3. 2019 European election results
  4. Thunberg: We can still fix climate, but must start today
  5. Turnout up in Slovakia, with pro-EU liberals scoring high
  6. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  7. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  8. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us