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The impasse - doubtless temporary - over the general staff has arisen over the question of immunity for the military personnel transferred to it. A draft Council decision has been worked out by senior national diplomats, to give effect to the January 2001 Council Decision to set up a general staff composed of senior national servicemen seconded to the Council secretariat.The decision sets out the rules and conditions for their work:* eligibility - they must be paid military service personnel from a Member State;* duration - three years, exceptionally extended for one more year, normally not renewable;* reporting lines - to the EU High Representative and Secretary General of the Council;* qualifications - "highly competent", multilingual, computer-literate, and with security clearance at "SECRET" or above;* status - covered by national social security;* obligations - impartiality, confidentiality;* remuneration - salary plus (normally) a daily allowance of just over Euro 100, plus additional allowances, travel allowances, removal expenses, and mission expenses.Diplomats have also prepared a number of accompanying declarations: one makes clear that staff on secondment remain subject to their national employment rules except where this does not create conflict with the Council decision, and another provides for temporary absences to meet national regulatory requirements (such as flying hours for pilots or service aboard for sailors). But there are still differences over the how to deal with the question of immunities which seconded members of the general staff should enjoy in other Member States. Member States have indicated their intentions to agree on functional immunities for all military personnel provided as part of the new defence policy (for instance taking part in the Rapid Reaction Force), but the agreement has not yet been reached. For the draft decision on the rules for the general staff, a declaration has been drafted noting the intention to reach an overall agreement, and urging rapid progress - and this text has won the backing of nearly all the Member States. But the UK says it is not enough, and agreement is therefore still awaited.NATO or EU?On the broader role of the EU new defence policy, and the rapidly- developing Common Foreign and Security Policy of which it forms a part, the parallels become daily more evident between what the EU is trying to do and what other organisations are doing. For instance, when George...

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