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First Meeting of the Interim Military Body

First Meeting of the Interim Military Body

Statement of Dr. Javier Solana, High Representative of the European Union for the Security Common Policy, at the first meeting of the interim military body in chiefs of Defence sessions. Brussels, 11 May 2000. Source: EU Council.

Again a historic day in the development of the European Union. The Helsinki Summit set out a number of essential elements for the establishment of a European Security and Defence Policy as part of a broad strategy to reinforce the European Union’s contribution to peace and stability in Europe. As part of that project we welcome, for the first time, a meeting of the interim Military Body in Chiefs of Defence session.

This Body, in other words the future European Union Military Committee, will have a vital role to play in developing and steering the crisis management capability of the Union. It will be the key permanent body in Brussels for providing military advice to the political authorities of the Union.

Delivering on the commitments we made at Helsinki means more than putting the right structures and bodies in place. The most important task is to improve our military capabilities. This Body will have a crucial role to play in ensuring that we end up with real improvements in our military capabilities and not just paper promises.

We are beginning to take seriously our responsibilities as a global actor for regional security and stability by reinforcing our capacity for crisis management. It goes without saying that, if we are to be credible, we have to have sufficient resources, both civilian and military.

Europe’s leaders committed themselves at Helsinki to significant improvements in our military crisis management capabilities. We set ourselves a demanding goal. We said we would do it. Now we must. I was very pleased by the determination of Defence Ministers, during their meeting at Sintra in February to succeed and to provide the Union with the forces needed to tackle a crisis and to do so quickly. I look to this Body to play its full part.

During the General Affairs Council with Defence Ministers on 20 March, I proposed an ambitious work schedule on how to proceed in the EU and outside the EU. Looking at the progress reached until today by this Body I must congratulate you – we are on track! According to the constructive framework agreed for the elaboration of the Headline Goal, scenarios will be selected today which will help to identify the capability requirements.

The first draft of a generic capability list has been developed to start the work on the next steps dealing with the elaboration of the detailed force capabilities and force packages covering our complete list of requirements. To succeed further, we will need not only the continued involvement by our national experts but also by other resources and available expertise in WEU and NATO.

I appreciate very much your intention to continue the work on a catalogue of general capabilites with a view to the Feira European Council in June. The interim Military Body would then, drawing on expertise from capitals, WEU and NATO, undertake the military analysis necessary to produce a catalogue of forces implicit in the Headline Goal. Taking into account the complexity of the task, and the need for Member States to reflect, we should envisage this being agreed by Defence Ministers in September at the latest.

As I laid down in the General Affairs Council meeting in March, in October, a kind of "force generation process" should start at expert level, followed by meetings of Chiefs of Defence, to establish national commitments to meet all shortfalls in capabilities.

In my view, it is important that a tight work programme be followed and that all bodies concerned are fully engaged. This means that we need active engagement of the interim Political and Security Committee if we are to succeed. We rely on you to ensure that the European Union develops the right military capabilities.


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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).