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Eu Operations

Volume 401: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the main features are of the EU/NATO arrangements for EU access to NATO capabilities for EU-led operations; how they differ from the agreement concluded between WEU and NATO; and if he will make a statement. [102676]

At the NATO summit at Washington in 1999, the Alliance declared that it stood ready to "define and adopt the necessary arrangements for ready access by the European Union to the collective assets and capabilities of the Alliance, for operations in which the Alliance as a whole is not engaged militarily as an Alliance". The main features of the arrangements, known as "Berlin Plus", are assured EU access to NATO operational planning capabilities, and a presumption of availability to the EU of pre-identified NATO capabilities and common assets for use in EU-led operations.The North Atlantic Council (NAC) decided on 13 December 2002 that assured EU access to NATO's operational planning capabilities was effective immediately, and undertook to put in place the rest of the Berlin Plus arrangements swiftly. This has now been done.The NATO/EU arrangements go beyond those established for the WEU in two important respects. First, because EU access to NATO operational planning is assured (i.e. continuous and guaranteed), NATO agreement is not required for any EU requests for NATO planning support; every WEU request would have required specific NAC approval. Second, there is a presumption that those NATO assets and capabilities that have been pre-identified will indeed be available to the EU. There was no such presumption under the NATO/WEU arrangements.The implementation of the Berlin Plus arrangements is a manifestation of the genuine strategic partnership in crisis management which NATO and EU have decided to establish together.