Select Committee on European Union Fifteenth Report

PART 1: INRODUCTION (continued)

14. The CESDP also greatly expands the scope of the European Union and transforms it from an organisation primarily using peaceful, economic and non-military means to pursue its foreign policy interests into an organisation with a military capability for power projection, including participation in humanitarian tasks. There is, however, a serious question that must be addressed: whether the policy raises sovereignty issues. The CESDP is being constructed on an inter-governmental basis: any action led by the EU involving the rapid reaction forces outlined at Helsinki will be an action by the Member States acting together. However, under Articles 18 and 27 of the Maastricht Treaty (as amended by the Amsterdam Treaty), the European Commission is fully associated with all aspects of the EU's common foreign and security policy, but it has no direct role in defence matters. Whether Treaty changes are required has been raised with us, even though the Maastricht Treaty, in establishing the Common Foreign and Security Policy, paved the way for the inclusion of security and defence policy.

15. The report also evaluates what the CESDP might be able to achieve. The policy, when originally announced, was much praised, but it will now need to be further developed beyond a series of headline goals if the CESDP is to make a substantial contribution to the peace of Europe and its surrounding regions and not to be merely a symbolic gesture.

16. We also attempt to evaluate the CESDP's effect on relations with the United States. The US is becoming less inclined to engage in military operations outside NATO. This means, in simple terms, that European governments will increasingly be expected to do more. If they do not, the US will do even less and the alliance will be thereby weakened. EU governments will also be more likely to influence US policy from a position of strength than from one of weakness.

17. The explicit aim of the CESDP is to increase EU governments' abilities to act in crisis. It has been stressed many times during our inquiry that the US should continue to play an important role in any future missions, even those that are led by the EU. The views of the US Government and Congress will be of great importance in shaping the CESDP. Evidence suggests that there is no settled view. If the CESDP initiative is successful, it offers the possibility of a more equally balanced alliance, based on a European and North American pillar, in which European members of the alliance make a more effective military contribution and in a way which allows European governments to act when the alliance as a whole chooses not to. However, there is concern that the development of the CESDP might weaken the alliance through a redirection of resources away from territorial defence and through the creation of a rival military organisation. Failure to meet the expectations set out in the EU's headline goal may adversely affect European-US relations and with the alliance. The views of members of NATO who are not members of the EU are important to the success of this initiative. This report addresses how the CESDP is constructed to accommodate them.

The Sub-Committee's report

18. This report seeks to address the issues above, and many others related to the development of an EU CESDP. In Part 2, we review the history of European defence in the run up to the Helsinki declaration. In Part 3, we discuss the tasks and missions that an autonomous European defence capacity would expect to undertake. In Part 4, we ask what capabilities are required for such tasks. In Part 5, we examine the command and control mechanisms that are so vital to the effective conduct of missions. Finally, we summarise our conclusions.

19. The CESDP is at an early stage in its development, and although progress has been rapid, the target date for readiness is 2003. The Sub-Committee's report will precede what we see as the first major test in the policy's construction, the capabilities commitment conference which is expected to take place in November 2000, when Member States of the EU will make statements as to what they are prepared to commit. The EU's intergovernmental conference (IGC), to be concluded in December 2000 at the Nice European Council, should clarify whether the institutional arrangements are suitable and, in particular whether Treaty changes are required. The Committee may therefore wish to return to the policy to comment on progress in 2001.

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