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Warships: EU Action

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 25 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the UK will play in relation to the European initiative on naval interoperability; and what the principle objectives are of this initiative. (300505)

There are two principal European initiatives on naval interoperability, the European Amphibious Initiative (EAI) and the European Carrier Group Interoperability Initiative (ECGII). Both initiatives seek to enhance European interoperability and capability in Amphibious and Carrier Strike Group operations respectively through greater cooperation and combined training and exercising at both the tactical and operational level. The main objective of these initiatives is that, by working more closely together in peacetime, it will allow for a more rapid and effective deployment of a multinational Amphibious or Carrier Strike Group force, when required, in the framework of NATO or EU-led operations.

As a permanent member, along with France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain, and with its well developed and balanced Amphibious forces, the UK plays an important part in the EAI. The UK provides the Permanent Secretariat and in 2010 will assume the chair, which is rotated on an annual basis between its members.

The UK, as a lead nation in operating Vertical and Short Take Off aircraft (VSTOL) from the sea, also plays an important role in the ECGII as one of its permanent members, along with Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.