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Making EU Military and Civilian Operational

Making EU Military and Civilian Operational

Speech by Dr. Björn von Sydow, Swedish Defence minister. Brussels, June 27, 2001. Source: MoD, Stockholm.

Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen,

All of you gathered here today have more or less been involved in the ESDP process, the Headline Goal-process and the negotiations concerning the Review Mechanism. In short the EU crisis management system.

And I want to thank all you very much for the effort and creativity you all put in to make this work.

In short I want to make a summary of what the Swedish presidency has achieved concerning the European security and defence policy. A process most of you here today have been a part of and in my view you made a good job out of it.

Even if war between the EU Member States today is unthinkable we still have to deal with crises, conflicts and catastrophes in the world around us.

Many of today’s conflicts call for multinational efforts at political, military, humanitarian and civilian level. Under our presidency EU has taken a significant step in that direction.

At the Göteborg Summit EU adopted a European programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts. In addition, under the Swedish Presidency, the EU has laid the foundations for intensified political dialogue and cooperation with the UN.

We have already made considerable progress in fulfilling those objectives. Crisis management structures have been established and procedures devised. During the spring, the crisis management structures i.e. the Political and Security Committee (PSC), the Military Committee (EUMC) and the EU Military Staff (EUMS) were transformed from interim into permanent structures. In order to ensure that the structures and procedures function properly, they must be tested. The exercise policy and exercise programme adopted by the Council in May thus constitute important tools for enhancing the EU' s ability to undertake operations, both civilian and military.

The programme covers the years 2001-2006 and includes both intra-EU and joint EU-NATO exercises.

The Swedish general Mertil Melin has during our Presidency together with many others worked with the Headline Goal Catalogue, Helsinki Forces Catalogue, Military Forces and Helsinki Catalogue. In other words the military resources nad capabilities, including the shortfalls.

In the building called Cortenbergh the Director General of the EU Military Staff Lieutenant General Rainer Schuwirth has moved in with 140 persons, military and civilians from all Member States.

That’s as well as the first permanent Chairman of the European Union Military Committee general Gustav Hägglund in his capacity of spokesman for the EUMC and military advisor to Javier Solana.

The work with European Security and Defence Policy in the second pillar has its special way. Decision is taken in consensus between the fifteen and that demands an active Presidency that pushes the agenda forward. Of course in cooperation with the High Representatives office as well as the Commission and the European Parliament.

During the process to make EU military and civilian operational the process has also contributed to the enlargement. All the European countries that are applying for membership, and also those that are not, have been sitting around the table in Brussels and made their contributions to EU:s crisis management and capabilities.

The NATO-lead KFOR operation in Kosovo is the good example what the international society can achieve in cooperation, EU, NATO, UNMIK with substantial contribution of Russia, USA and others. But also an example what EU crisis management can do when in operation.

In the negotiations with the other member states and NATO, with the hopeless name Review Mechanism, we tried to solve the cooperation between our "organisations". And we were very close.

The problematic and sad development in Macedonia is an example where the Unions crisis management partly or fully operational could have made a difference. During this spring both what EU can offer in terms of political aid and support and what NATO can offer in terms of military help have been discussed. We were close to the Nice conclusions and in my opinion that’s what is all about-EU Crisis Prevention and Crisis Management.

  • Finally

Openness and transparency have been watchwords for the Swedish Presidency. We need an active and open dialogue with our fellow citizens, not least in questions involving security and defence policy. Access to information is decisive in this respect. The regulation on public access to the Council’s, the Commission’s and the European Parliament’s documents that was recently adopted by the Council and the Parliament is therefore to be regarded as a breakthrough.

At the informal meeting of Defence Ministers on 14 May, my colleagues and I discussed the question of dialogue with the public as regards crisis management. We agree that openness is a prior condition for our work to develop the EU:s crisis management capacity. We should strive to achieve as wide a debate as possible with our citizens, with the aim of explaining our underlying motives.

I know that my colleague Andre Flahaut and the Belgium Presidency is determined to give priority to openness and transparency. Openness is a prior condition for our work to develop the EU´s crisis management capacity.

With these words I want to thank you all and I look forward working with you in the future.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).