Annex: Response to specific questions in ESC
reports: European security and defence: following up the December
2013 European Defence Council of 15 January 2015 and European
Defence Agency of 10 December 2014
Policy Framework for Systematic and long term
Defence Cooperation, the EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework and
the Progress Catalogue for 2014
"The Reports request that the Government deposit
with Explanatory Memoranda the Policy Framework for Systematic
and long term Defence Cooperation, the EU Cyber Defence
Policy Framework and the Progress Catalogue for 2014.
We would like to clarify the Governments approach to scrutiny
of these documents.
"Unfortunately, the Progress Catalogue
is an EU Restricted document and therefore we are unable to provide
an Explanatory Memorandum or deposit the document and share publicly
more information than we already provided in our joint letter
of 10 December.
"As the Policy Framework for Systematic
and long-term Defence Cooperation is a non-binding framework,
we would not normally deposit the document with an Explanatory
Memorandum. However, the document is publicly available and given
the interest of the Committee we are happy to provide you with
a more detailed commentary on the framework which the MOD will
send through in the coming weeks.
"The Committees will have received a detailed
update letter dated 8 December on the EU Cyber Defence Policy
Framework from the Minister for Europe setting out the
details of the EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework including our
views. Unfortunately the letter had already been agreed by the
relevant Government departments by the time we saw your report
of 27 November, which is why your report was not referenced in
"Although the EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework
was called for by the December 2013 European Council, it was one
of seven action points from the CSDP section of the Council Conclusions
on the EU Cyber Security Strategy adopted by the June 2013 General
Affairs Council. The EU Cyber Security Strategy is not a legislative
document and is therefore non-binding on Member States.
"The Council Conclusions of the June 2013 GAC
clearly state that there was a need to 'take forward the CSDP
related cyber defence aspects of the Strategy'. The EU Cyber Defence
Policy Framework is intended to increase resilience of EU networks/institutions
and promote the development of Member States' cyber defence/resilience
capabilities. It therefore describes the EU networks defences
against unwanted intrusion rather than in a wider military sense
and therefore does not cross any UK red lines. We therefore do
not intend to provide an Explanatory Memorandum on this document,
but we hope that the above overview is helpful to the Committee.
"The EEAS and Commission have made some progress
on producing an Action Plan. An experts meeting was convened in
December 2014 where the EEAS and Commission issued a draft outline
of the plan. We welcomed its focus on: providing better joint
analysis; the nexus between training and equipping; the transition
to other instruments, not least development cooperation; and the
avoidance of new procedures and structures all of which are important
parts of the comprehensive approach. The thread that ties
everything together is better institutional cooperation.
"As it currently stands, the action plan is
short on practical detail as to how such cooperation might be
achieved. Whilst we have no formal remit in agreeing the
contents of the plan, the UK has led lobbying efforts to the EEAS
and Commission, to include more tangible ideas for implementation.
Given the scale of the task of implementing the Comprehensive
Approach, we do not expect a single action plan to have all the
answers. But we want to make sure the plan adds real value by
suggesting ideas and incentives to improve comprehensive working
practises. We will write to the Committees and provide a
copy of the final version of the Action Plan once published.
"EU Maritime Security Strategy Action Plan
"The EU Maritime Security Action
Plan was adopted at the General Affairs Council on 16 December
2014 as an A point. This was a change from the originally stated
intention of including the Action Plan in Council Conclusions.
The final agreed unclassified document has no amendments from
the Limite version previously submitted and is attached
for your information.
"Your report outlines your interest in the five
work strands of the action plan which correspond to the areas
identified for action in the EU Maritime Security Strategy. These
are external action; maritime awareness, surveillance and information
sharing; capability development; risk management, protection of
critical maritime infrastructure and crisis response; and maritime
security research and innovation, education and training. The
implementation of the action plan will be managed by existing
commission working groups. The Friends of the Presidency Working
Group have agreed that a review will be conducted by each Presidency.
The first of these is due to occur in March 2015, following which
the Minister for Europe will write to you with further details
of the actions, implementation progress and monitoring process.
"European Defence Agency
"Your report raises a number of issues regarding
Parliamentary Scrutiny of the EDA report and budgets. As you are
aware, providing these documents in appropriate time for Parliamentary
Scrutiny is made more difficult by EEAS timelines. However, we
will provide you with an update before and after EDA steering
boards. We will also provide you with the headline figure for
the EDA Budget ahead of its agreement and a supplementary Explanatory
Memorandum with the final version of the budget to explain any
"There has been no change to the Government's
approach to the EDA budget where we have secured a budgetary freeze
over the past five years. We have consistently argued that the
EDA should be realistic about its budget, given the ongoing decline
in defence spending by all Member States. The Minister for
International Security wrote to Baroness Ashton on 15 May 14,
asking the Agency to amend the 2015 budget estimate to see zero
'nominal' growth. However, the EDA did not produce an alternative
zero 'nominal' growth budget, choosing instead to present the
draft zero real growth draft budget for consideration at the Foreign
Affairs Council (FAC) on 18 November 2014. As such the UK could
not agree to the draft budget as it did not meet our initial requirements,
leading to the Council tasking the EDA to produce a 'flat cash'
EDA 2015 Budget for consideration.
"This draft 'flat cash' budget was then published
by the EDA as a limite document at which point it was submitted
for scrutiny to the Committees, with an associated draft Explanatory
Memorandum. Both Committees approved the draft budget by the 15
December 14, following which the EDA budget was approved with
no amendments by the Council on the 17 December 14. The UK will
continue to lobby the European External Action Service to provide
key documents in a non limite format so as to enable their
submission for scrutiny and clearance prior to Council meetings.
"As you are already aware, the Government is
committed to regularly reviewing its membership of the EDA. An
external review by the Defence Academy is due to be completed
by mid-March 2015 and will result in a confidential report. The
report will inform the internal debate going forward and as such
the MOD will be unable to provide the review for scrutiny. However,
we will inform the Committees of any Government decision on UK
membership of the EDA.
"You also raise the continuing scrutiny issues
caused by EEAS timelines. We share your concerns as you
will have seen from the Minister for Europe's update on 15 December,
he wrote on 9 December to the new High Representative outlining
the Government's concerns and setting out known scrutiny timelines.
The Minister wrote again on the 10 February to set out timelines
and scrutiny around dissolution, and will be writing to you shortly
with a further update and response from the High Representative
/ Vice President."