In a declaration with Defence Ministers following a joint session on =November 19, Foreign Ministers meeting in the General Affairs Council =announced that they had made "significant improvements" in terms of both =quantity and quality of contributions, saying that the EU should be able =to carry out the full-range of 'Petersburg' tasks by 2003. Since the =last capabilities conference in November 2000, Member States had made ="substantial additional contributions" making up shortfalls in multiple =rocket launchers, transmission, electronic warfare, armoured infantry =and bridging engineering units. Additional contributions had been made =in the fields of combat search and rescue and precision guided weapons. =The UK Defence Minister said that the meeting had resolved around 20% of =the shortfalls identified last year.Shortfalls remain.But Ministers admitted that additional efforts needed to be made in =terms of protecting forces deployed, commitment capability and =logistics. Gaps also existed in the fields of naval aviation and =maritime evacuation, combat search and rescue and precision guided =weapons. Additional efforts were also needed for intelligence gathering =and surveillance and reconnaissance while transport remained a problem, =especially with regard to wide-body aircraft and roll on/roll off ships. =Ministers therefore announced an Action Plan designed to promote =voluntary efforts by Member States to make up the remaining shortfalls. =The Action Plan outlines a series of measures by which Members States =could pool their resources to meet the missing shortfalls.Six nations to co-operate on air combat system.In the course of the meeting, defence ministers from France, Germany, =Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK signed a declaration on a joint =technology programme to develop European capabilities for combat air =systems, to be known as "European Technology Acquisition Programme" =(ETAP).Solana hails progress.The EU's High representative for foreign policy Javier Solana said the =meeting had been a "great success" which would enable him to recommend =that the EU declared itself operational at Laeken. He qualified his =comments by saying that this meant that the EU would be able to deal on =a "case-by-case" basis with some of the problems it would face between =the current time and 2003. He also announced that as part of efforts to =tackle the shortfall in intelligence gathering the meeting had decided =to set up an intelligence...

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