|Author (Person)||Abbott, Dennis|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.8, No.37, 17.10.02, p2|
THE European Union desperately needs military missions to demonstrate its strength to the United States, according to one of NATO's most influential voices.
It also needs to adopt a more united position on the major foreign policy issues of the day if it wants to be taken seriously by the White House, said Jamie Shea, director of press and information at Alliance headquarters in Brussels.
'Euro-whinging has no impact. Only a united EU viewpoint makes the US modify its position,' he told a gathering of security experts and media in the Belgian capital.
Instead, he claimed that the EU found it easier to unify on 'second-order issues' such as the International Criminal Court.
'The US doesn't buy that the EU can't be a significant military power. It's down to political will,' he added.
Shea highlighted the partnership between British and French forces in Bosnia as a success, but said the EU needed more missions like that. NATO itself had been transformed in the past by having 'something to do', he said.
Elmar Brok, chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, suggested that NATO's proposed new response force might compete with the EU's own rapid reaction force.
Shea rejected this on two counts: first, NATO envisages a 21,000-strong pool of troops available for special operations at 30 days' notice, while the EU's target is for a 60,000 strong pool designed for 'Petersberg' tasks (predominantly peace-keeping missions) at 60 days' notice.
Second, while conceding that this might result in some 'double-hatting' of troops, Shea insisted that in practice this would not be a problem because a 'fire brigade can only put out one blaze at a time'.
Eduardo Serra, Spain's former defence minister, told the gathering that the EU needed to present itself as a friend of the US if it wanted to influence thinking in the White House. But Brok added that being a friend did not necessarily mean always agreeing with America.
Shea said Tony Blair's influence with the US administration was obvious, but that it would be even more effective if he had the support of France, Germany or Italy. The Palais d'Egmont gathering was the first of a new series of meetings under the banner of the 'New Defence Agenda Rapid Reaction Forum', a platform for discussing NATO and EU defence and security policies.
The European Union desperately needs military missions to demonstrate its strength to the United States, according to Jamie Shea, director of press and information at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations, Security and Defence|