Select Committee on European Union Twenty-Sixth Report


Reply from Dr Den MacShane Minister for Europe to Lord Jopling

  Thank you for sending the Secretary of State and me a copy of your Committee's report, "EU—Effective in a crisis". I am grateful to you and your Committee colleagues for undertaking such a comprehensive inquiry into the EU's civilian crisis management capability and I was pleased to be able to give evidence to the Committee in December.

  I have read with interest the useful recommendations that you make in the report and I am pleased to attach the Government's response to these.

6 May 2003

HMG Response to recommendations made by the House of Lords European Union Select Committee in its Report "EU—Effective in a Crisis?"

1.   That civilian ESDP be more transparent and clear to allow scrutiny by Member States.

  HMG notes the Committee's surprise that figures for Member State pledges to the civilian crisis management targets were classified, particularly when military pledges were made public following the military ESDP conference in November 2000. The civilian pledges were classified at the request of certain Member States (not including the UK) for domestic political reasons. HMG agrees that it is important that pledges relating to civilian ESDP are as transparent as possible and has advised the Committee of all UK pledges to the targets. However, it accepts that other Member States might be reluctant to pledge such high numbers of personnel if they were to be required to publicise them. As the Committee is aware, it has the right to apply to the Council Secretariat for release of the pledges and other classified documents if it wishes to do so.

2.   The scope and headline goals of civilian ESDP be clarified.

  As noted in its written memorandum to the Committee, HMG supported the establishment of the capabilities targets in the four priority areas for civilian crisis management and thinks that they provide the basis of a realistic EU crisis management capability. HMG considers that these priority areas and targets gave sufficient clarity for the initial phase of civilian crisis management. But now these targets have been met, HMG agrees with the Committee that the time is right to look at the further development of those capabilities. The Civilian Crisis Management Committee is already taking forward this work.

3.   A clearer definition of the type of operation that the EU might consider undertaking to allow for more effective co-operation with several key organisations and to avoid duplication.

  HMG agrees that close co-ordination and co-operation between the EU and other international organisations is vital to avoid unnecessary duplication. Since the inception of civilian ESDP, the EU has committed itself to co-operating closely with, and avoiding duplication of, other international organisations. The European Council at Gothenburg made a specific commitment to this effect. This has been followed up by seminars in which other international organisations have participated. There are of course differences between the various international organisations and their capabilities: unlike the OSCE or NATO, the EU has the capability to deploy crisis management operations with both military and civilian components. Such crisis management operations are backed up by the considerable political will of the EU acting at fifteen. HMG considers that the differences between the international organisations will be sufficient to avoid the possible inter-organisational tensions highlighted by the Committee. But this is clearly an area we will continue to monitor closely.

4.   The geographical scope of civilian ESDP is related to the resources and structures available.

  Although in theory there are no geographical limitations to EU civilian crisis management, HMG agrees with the Committee that its geographical scope should be related to the resources and structures available. At this early stage in its development, this perhaps means that its geographical scope will be limited to the Balkans. However, as civilian ESDP develops, it is likely that the resources and structures will be sufficient to support EU civilian crisis management interventions further afield.

5.   A clearer definition of the four areas of civilian ESDP to cover the need to fill gaps in international crisis management capacity.

  As noted above, HMG considers the four priority areas of civilian crisis management to provide a realistic basis for a civilian crisis management capability and the meeting of the targets in those four areas to mark the successful end of the first phase of development of civilian ESDP. HMG is confident that the ongoing discussions on the further development of civilian ESDP will provide much of the greater definition that the Committee highlights as a requirement.

  HMG notes with interest the Committee's suggestion that civil protection is not an appropriate priority area for civilian crisis management as the Commission is best placed to carry out this activity. The Commission can carry out civil protection both inside and outside the EU. We expect that civil protection interventions carried out under Title V civilian crisis management will usally form part of a wider civilian crisis management operation. In order to ensure that unnecessary duplication is kept to a minimum, Member States are currently negotiating the modalities for use of the Community Civil Protection Mechanism in Title V crisis management interventions, thereby avoiding setting up a duplicatory second pillar mechanism.

6.   The creation of an international training team of Member State experts.

  HMG notes with interest the Committee's suggestion of the creation of an international training team of Member State experts following an examination of its functions and responsibilities. As well as participating in the pilot phase of the EC Training Project for civilian crisis management personnel, HMG hopes to commission a study looking at broader recruitment, retention and training issues. We will ensure that the Committee's suggestion is fed into that study should it go ahead.

7.   That the Convention for the Future of Europe consider the limitations of the current pillar structure.

  HMG agrees with the Committee that the Convention on the Future of Europe should consider the limitations of the current pillar structure. From the discussions to date in the Convention on this issue, it seems that the collapse of the pillar structure is a likely outcome. HMG recognises the advantages of this for simplicity, but we would need to ensure that the special intergovernmental nature of CFSP (including civilian ESDP) and some aspects of JHA is preserved.

8.   A more streamlined and responsive chain of command and control including other relevant organisations.

  As the Committee notes, a revision of the crisis management procedures (which define the decision-making processes for both military and civilian crisis management) was undertaken after the EU Crisis Management Exercise in 2002 (CME02). This produced a streamlined version of the Crisis Management Procedures which simplified some of the decision-making processes. However, the EU recognises that the Crisis Management Procedures will need to be revised again in due course and on a regular basis, in light of experience during the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Operation Concordia, the first military ESDP operation, in Macedonia.

9.   Enhanced co-ordination on civil-military matters.

  HMG agrees with the Committee that there is a need for enhanced civil-military co-ordination in ESDP. The UK is a leading proponent of this in the EU forum, for example in our current collaboration with partners on a draft Civil-Military Co-ordination Framework document. The UK draft has been discussed initially in the Politico-Military Group and will in due course be discussed in CivCom too. Civil-military co-ordination is also tested by the EU exercise programme. HMG attaches considerable importance to ensuring that the development of civil-military co-ordination in EU crisis management takes account of lessons learned during live operations (eg co-ordination between the EUPM and SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina). As the EU expressed its willingness at the Copenhagen European Council to take over the NATO operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is possible that the first live example of an EU crisis management operation with both military and civilian components will be in Bosnia (the EU Police Mission already being on the ground there).

10.   Member States should engage more directly with the European Parliament on civilian crisis management issues.

  The European Parliament is consulted and informed on the main aspects, basic choices and developments in CFSP. As this includes both the military and civilian aspects of ESDP we consider that there is good regular contact. Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union provides the basis for this involvement of the European Parliament in CFSP. The Inter-institutional Agreement of May 1999, between the European Parliament, Council and Commission on budgetary discipline and improvement of the budgetary procedure, outlines the involvement of the European Parliament in CFSP budgetary matters. HMG is content with this level of engagement with the European Parliament on CFSP, including civilian ESDP. Any change in this level of engagement may arise in the current discussions in the Convention on the Future of Europe.

11.   A long-term system of financing.

  While HMG agrees with the Committee that a long-term financing solution for civilian ESDP needs to be found, it considers that the financing model for the EU Police Mission has worked well. The Italians have announced their intention to tackle civilian ESDP financing during their upcoming Presidency. We have already started to discuss specific proposals with them on the basis of a first draft of an Italian paper.

  The Committee refers in its report to two recently agreed financing options for common costs—it is worth noting that these models in fact apply only to the financing of military ESDP. Whereas common costs for civilian crisis management operations can be met from the CFSP budget, under Article 28 of the Treaty on European Union, expenditure arising from operations having military or defence implications cannot.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003