BRUSSELS --- Five leading EU countries, but not the UK, have said the Union needs a new military "structure" to manage overseas operations.
The foreign and defence ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain issued the call in a joint communique after a meeting in Paris on Thursday (15 November).
The paper says: "We are convinced that the EU must set up, within a framework yet to-be-defined, true civilian-military structures to plan and conduct missions and operations."
It adds: "We should show preparedness to hold available, train, deploy and sustain in theatre the necessary civilian and military means."
It lists a number of EU military priorities for the coming years: helping Somalia to fight Islamists and pirates; "a possible training mission to support the Malian armed forces" in reconquering north Mali; "assistance to support the new Libyan authorities" against Islamist militias; "normalisation" of the Western Balkans; "conflict resolution" in Georgia; and police training in Afghanistan.
The communique also calls for more "pooling and sharing" of EU defence hardware in the context of crisis-related budget cuts.
It identifies "space, ballistic-missile defence, drones, air-to-air refuelling, airlift capacities, medical support to operations [and] software defined radio" as pooling areas.
The reference to new "civilian-military structures" comes after the UK last year blocked the creation of a new operational headquarters (OHQ) in Brussels for EU military missions. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full report, on the EU Observer website.
Click here for the official communique, on the French Foreign Affairs Ministry website.