Select Committee on European Union Fifteenth Report


75. The command and control of a European rapid reaction force, including planning and analysis, is the most complex issue in ensuring an effective European military capability. Issues to be addressed include the structures and procedures that need to be put in place in the European Union; the relationship between NATO and the EU; and the role of non-EU states, especially the United States and Turkey. In addition it is worth stressing that command and control issues are part of the core sovereignty of a nation state, with constitutional authority to deploy military force remaining a national decision. There will be a need to ensure strong accountability for a CESDP.

The EU and NATO

76. One of the most important command and control issues centres on the relationship between the EU and NATO. The EU has already established an embryonic military staff and has set up military and political committees. The key question is whether in the medium or long term the EU's military institutions will serve to complement or to duplicate (and therefore rival) those of NATO. The United States have repeatedly stated that their support for the European Security and Defence Identity is dependent on what is known as "the three Ds": that there is no de-coupling of the US from Europe; that there is no duplication of NATO structures and capabilities; and that there is no discrimination against the non-EU members of NATO. These views are shared by the British Government: according to Mr Jones Parry, "At St Malo we wrote in very firmly as the absolute United Kingdom red line that whatever we ended up with should be supportive of NATO" (Q3); and the Secretary of State spoke of his determination "that we should not lose any kind of linkage with NATO because we recognise that NATO and its planning processes has much of the expertise to do this kind of job already, and it would be foolish for the EU to try and duplicate it." (Q357)

77. Nevertheless, it is far from clear that all EU governments subscribe to the British view that any EU command and control is intended to complement that of NATO. The French government has routinely been accused of harbouring a desire to create an autonomous European command structure to rival NATO. In his evidence, Dr Menon stated that the French government has "a different view of the sequence notion to the Americans; that the EU should decide first and then go to NATO. That much is very obvious." (Q423) However, as the introduction has indicated, the St Malo accord was only made possible by French willingness to avoid duplication of forces and to the idea that European military action would take place 'where the Alliance as a whole is not engaged'. Evidence also suggests that almost all Member States accept the primacy of NATO, with most using the same military staff in the EU's military committee as they use in NATO's military committee, an activity called "double-hatting". This, it is hoped, will ensure full transparency in NATO and EU planning and decision making and avoid duplication and conflict.

78. In the light of this, a military operation that is led by NATO, using the EU rapid reaction facility and actively supported by the US, is the most favoured scenario. But there are a number of other scenarios, namely:

79. Any operation using NATO structures would be relatively straightforward. It would be run by the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander (Europe) (DSACEUR) who is always appointed from European NATO members. Such an operation would be commanded from NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), at Mons in Belgium. However, any EU operation independent of NATO raises fundamental questions about the political-military interface within the EU and military command and control issues.

80. An EU-led structure conducting a military operation is more complicated than its NATO equivalent, which has evolved over half a century. As noted by Professor Clarke, in an EU-led mission "the command arrangements will be politically messy and it will be a long haul to achieve the smoothness which NATO has achieved through sheer training over that number of years." (Q86) Evidence suggests the exact layout of any potential EU command and control structure is difficult to establish; however, we have tried to offer one possibility, reproduced as Figure 4. As this diagram makes clear, the lines of command become vastly more complex as the EU takes on a command role both in terms of ensuring transparency with NATO and in terms of the political-military interface within the EU.

40   This type of mission might utilise NATO's command and control structures with a military operation led by the DSACEUR and commanded from SHAPE (see also paragraph 79). In addition other NATO assets might be used, for example AWACS, radar and air defence as well as storage depots, pipelines and fuel and ammunition stockpiles. Back

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