At the EU Summit in Nice in December the EU Heads of State and Government formally adopted a European Security and Defence Policy including a 60 000-man rapid reaction force to be ready by 2003 and a decision-making body in Brussels headed by Javier Solana. The force must be able to operate within 60 days and must be sustained for at least one year.
In order to keep 60 000 men in operation for one year and taking into account the need for rotation a heavy back-up force is necessary which means that the total amount of men needed is 200 000 - 240 000 backed up by 400 military aircrafts and 100 marine vessels. The operational range is 4 000 kilometres from the EU borders which includes large areas of Africa, the Near East and Kaukasus. The contributions of Germany (18 000 men), France (12 000 men) and the United Kingdom (12 500 men) amounts to roughly 70 % of the forces showing clearly who is going to decide about how, where and when the troups are going to be used. What is important, said the French President Jaques Chirac at a press conference in Nice, is that the European Union is ”capable of managing crises when its own interests are at stake” and to be able to do so the EU needs an operational capability, civilian and military.
At a common European Union and United States Summit in Washington the 18th of December the United States welcomed the outcome of the EU-Summit in Nice which ”marked a very important step in the development of the European Security and Defence Policy. The commitments made by the EU Member States concerning military capabilities will - when they are implemented - according to US views strenghten both the EU and the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance. The US also welcomed the proposed arrangements for consultation and cooperation with NATO adopted in Nice which also got a positive response at the NATO Council in December. The United States stated that it looks forward to ”working with a European Union playing its full role and assuming its full responsibilities on the international scene”.
However the US has also expressed critics about the EU military project. The US Defence Secretary William Cohen gave, in connection with the Nice Summit, a warning that the catalogue of forces was not enough and that so far the EU plan for a future force has not been backed by any real increase in military spendings necessary for a real defence effort. Defence expenditures by the European NATO countries in 1999 and 2000 continued the declining trend of recent years. At the moment defence spendings by the European NATO countries remains at about 40 % of total NATO outlay and NATO European Research and development spending is just 25 % of that of the United States. In the long run this imbalance will lead to conflicts within NATO and between the EU and NATO since the EU in all documents stresses the cooperation with NATO which includes using US equipment for military actitivies.
It is a great mystery how it has been possible to slowly militarize the European Union without any stormy debates in the media and without any critical comments in the political circles. How is it possible that the peoples all around Europe nicely have accepted the change of military terminology and do not protest when war is called humanitarian intervention and when the use of bombs containing Depleted Uranium, and according to the latest news even small amounts of Plutonium, are affecting both N ATOs own soldiers and the people NATO was supposed to rescue from violence?
One of the answers could be the extremely shrewd way in which the completely impenetrable European Security architecture of today has been built up. Everything is overlapping each other; NATO membership, the former WEU, the EU, the OSCE, the Partnership for Peace, the Council of Europe, the NATO-Russian Council, uncountable numbers of committees, ad-hoc groups, sub-groups, etc. If a country for some reason cannot participate in some kind of activity under the leadership of one organisation another identity can easily be found. And the definitions of actions can easily be changed from peace keeping to humanitarian intervention or crises management or peace consultation etc.
The EU elites have accepted the traditional model for building up a super power - a strong military impact. It is the peoples of Europe that have to break with this kind of imperialistic power models by starting an all-European debate about cultural values, political non-violence , alternative security models, ecological and economic balance, justice and respect for basic human values.
chair of Alternative to EU - Finland, board member of the European Anti-Maastricht Alliance, TEAM, activist within the movement Women for Peace - Finland