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Achievements of the EU French Presidency in relation to ESDP


"New impetus given to European Security and Defence

France made European security and defence one of the priorities of its presidency. In July 2008 it submitted a comprehensive programme to its partners: this was adopted by the Heads of State and of Government at European Council on 11-12 December. It takes a coherent approach: shared analysis of risks and threats alongside a review of the European Security Strategy and, based on this, a collective commitment to boost European capabilities to deal with such situations as may arise; recognition of the strategic and economic necessity of restructuring the defence technology and industrial base; strengthening Europe’s partnerships with NATO and the United Nations and encouraging the European Union to take on more responsibility in the face of global threats.

The programme was set out, discussed and adopted against the backdrop of extensive European Union engagement in the field: EUFOR TCHAD/RCA went ahead; launch in September 2008 of the civilian monitoring mission to Georgia; December launch of the EULEX civil mission in Kosovo and of counter-piracy naval operation, Atalanta, off the coast of Somalia. Lastly, operation Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina has fulfilled its military objectives and could end shortly.

Security strategy over the next decade

The European Security Strategy, adopted in 2003, is the embodiment of the common security interests of Europeans. The French Presidency supported the work carried out by the High Representative/Secretary General to update the document. In the course of the review, it has been possible to supplement it so that it now takes account of the developments that have taken place in Europe and the emergence of new global threats (proliferation, terrorism, organised crime, cyber attack). This discussion document enables Europeans to assess and fully take on board their responsibilities in security matters.

Strengthening military and crisis-management capabilities, developing European Union instruments

The first priority was to make sure Europeans had modern, robust, interoperable military capabilities. To that end, the Council committed itself to a number of key projects:

- to enhance projection capabilities: decisions were taken on the formation of a European airlift fleet and the creation of an A400M multinational unit; modernisation of helicopters and training for their crews; European aeronaval cooperation and building air-based projection capability;
- to strengthen European space information and intelligence capabilities: agreements were signed on the launch of the MUSIS all-weather military observation satellite programme and making satellite imagery available via the European Union satellite centre;
- to improve forces’ protection and operational efficiency: agreements were signed for a new European Defence Agency Programme for mine clearance at sea, for the conduct of the future surveillance UAV project and for networking existing maritime surveillance systems;
- to develop a European defence culture and forces interoperability: a young officer exchange scheme (military Erasmus) between major European military schools is to be established; better coordination of the military means for rescue operations.

It was agreed in the framework of the level of ambition established, that Europe should in practical terms be capable, in the years ahead, inter alia, of deploying 60 000 men in 60 days for a major operation, of planning and conducting simultaneously:

– two major stabilisation and reconstruction operations, with a suitable civilian component, supported by 10 000 men for two years;
– two rapid response operations using inter alia the EU battle groups (1 500 troops);
– an emergency operation for the evacuation of European nationals within 10 days;
– a maritime or air surveillance/interdiction mission;
– a civilian-military humanitarian assistance operation;
– a dozen or so ESDP civilian missions, including a major mission (up to 3 000 staff).

The French Presidency also sought to provide the European Defence Agency both with orders and the necessary financial resources and instruments of action. OCCAR (the Joint Armament Cooperation Organisation) is thus to become its executive branch. To facilitate formation of major industrial defence groups of world stature supported by a network of responsive, innovative SMEs, three specific measures were taken: greater defence R&T effort, creation of a genuine European defence equipment market and reinforcing supply chains, notably through assistance to SMEs.

The French Presidency furthermore obtained agreement at first reading in December 2008 on two draft directives of the defence “package” on defence procurement and intra-community transfers of defence goods. These two instruments will help gradually build a European defence equipment market (EDEM) and underpin the European defence technology and industrial base (EDTIB), both major objectives in strengthening the development of the Union’s military capability in the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

Development of partnerships for security

Efforts to reinforce the NATO-EU strategic partnership have been set in train, in a spirit of complementarity and mutual support respectful of the freedom of decision of both the Union and the Alliance. The Union affirmed its support for United Nations and African Union peacekeeping."

Assembly of WEU