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Eu Military Capabilities

Volume 401: debated on Friday 14 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on progress with implementing the Headline Goal to give the European Union the means of carrying out the full range of Petersberg missions; and if he will make a statement; [102674](2) what measures are planned to overcome the budgetary problems affecting achievement of the Helsinki goals; and if he will make a statement; [102678]

(3) what assessment has been made of shortfalls in the military capabilities of the EU member states; what assessment he has made of the prospects for overcoming them; and if he will make a statement. [102675]

The Helsinki Headline Goal has been broken down into 144 capability targets, of which 104 had been met following the Capabilities Improvement Conference in November 2001. Of the 40 shortfalls about half may be resolved by improved management of existing forces. For the rest, a European Capability Action Plan (ECAP) was launched after the conference, comprising multinational panels tasked with suggesting possible solutions.Steady progress has been made with implementing ECAP. The panels are in the process of issuing their final reports. Panel suggestions will be taken forward by Member States on a voluntary basis, with steps being taken to establish "Project Groups" to take these solutions forward. Decisions on defence budgets and priorities within them are matters for individual member states.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures have been taken to incorporate the fight against international terrorism within the range of European Security and Defence Policy missions; and if he will make a statement. [102672]

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) seeks to enable the European Union to deal with the full range of conflict prevention and crisis management missions defined in the Treaty, the "Petersberg Tasks". These missions (humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking) already give ESDP considerable scope to assist in the fight against international terrorism. Further work was commissioned, building on the Declaration of the Seville European Council concerning the contribution of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy, including ESDP, in the fight against terrorism. This includes strengthening arrangements for sharing intelligence, and developing common threat evaluations. We are also supporting, in the framework of the Convention on the Future of Europe and elsewhere, proposals to allow a member state to call on the resources, including military, of other EU members, for civil protection tasks, following a terrorist attack.