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DEFENCE: FIRST EU MINISTERIAL MEETING TAKES STOCK OF LIMITED PROGRESS.

There have been advances in the establishment of the Capability Development Mechanism, Ministers noted, but further efforts were needed, they agreed, to fill the gaps, and to fix the principles and the framework that could ensure coherency with NATO. Member States have also been co-operating on the European Capabilities Action Plan, and working groups have begun intensive studies of the most persistent and conspicuous deficiencies in order to identify solutions - in areas as diverse as the long-distance large-volume air transport required to put EU forces in theatre - and sophisticated weapon systems. A full report on progress is to be presented during the upcoming Danish Presidency (although that discussion will be chaired by Greece, the following Presidency, since Denmark has opted out of CESDP).The state of the promised rapid response force that the December 1999 Helsinki Summit committed the EU to have in place by 2003 was also examined - but here the underlying problems of EU defence policy remain a still insuperable barrier. The necessary links to NATO - for systematic assets, particularly in planning - remain to be formalised, because Greece still refuses to sign off on the EU-NATO deal that was intended to assuage opposition within NATO itself, from Turkey. Turkey's price for dropping its opposition was guarantees of EU consultation whenever action was envisaged in Turkey's sphere of influence. Greece says it will not back such an EU concession to Turkey unless it wins a similar reciprocal concession itself.Only on arms procurement has the Spanish Presidency been able to mark any concrete progress in the defence field. Following the meeting it held on the subject in Madrid on April 29, the Presidency has put together a list of "guidelines" on how to reinforce EU co-operation on procurement.These guidelines urge that co-operation on arms should be considered as part of the EU efforts to fill the identified military capabilities gaps - and that all co-operation should therefore respect the principles that underlie the European Capabilities Action Plan, particularly transparency, and the avoidance of duplication. Spain believes that national directors of armaments should be kept abreast of developments in the EU working groups that are focusing on gaps in capabilities, and that they should even take part in the groups where procurement is likely to offer at least part of the solution. The defence industry too should be more closely involved in the discussions, says the Presidency, and defence research merits greater promotion "to narrow the gap with other countries".

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Title Annotation:coherency with North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EU
Date:May 15, 2002
Words:410
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