PositionEuropean Union increases emphasis on defence - Brief Article

Mr Flahaut said the meeting had produced renewed expressions of solidarity with the US, explicit recognition of the threat that terrorism poses to European security, and numerous declarations that the response should be "more Europe" and an acceleration of EU defence policy so that the EU can play its role.What this amounted to in practice was a determination to seek the best co-operation between Member States' military intelligence services, and between military and civil intelligence services, and closer (if so far only imperfectly defined) links with the candidates and Russia. Relations with national parliaments will also be improved, ministers agreed.Following the discussions among defence ministers, the Belgian Presidency is to invite the General Affairs Council to debate the transformation of the informal defence ministers meetings into a formal Council, or some other formation that allows effective military co-operation over and above the extended General Affairs Council formation when defence ministers attend.The meeting also produced agreement on a plan to reassure the public "with information about what has been done and is being done" in EU defence policy. National defence spokesmen are to get together to discuss communication, and the EU Defence Institute is to study national defence programmes, with a view to producing a publication during the Spanish Presidency in the first half of 2002. And there will be more meetings of experts held to discuss the health aspects of defence - particularly in the light of threats of bio-terrorism.The real questions.Whether Member States are ready to pay to make available the hardware and men needed to make a reality of EU defence policy remains an open question. In the run-up to the November 19-20 Capabilities Conference, where heads and tanks and ships will be counted again after the promises made at the first such conference in November 2000, Mr Flahaut is still depending on promises. He said he believed that there would be a Member State response to the need to speed policy, because "recent days have pushed European construction and remobilised EU defence ministers in their reaffirmation of its indispensability - and we have all started national...

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