September 2000

EU defence shapes up fast

The rapid progress towards closer defence co-operation in the EU makes many citizens nervous, especially because of NATO involvement, at least at initial stages. This observation is made in a leading article of the Finnish national daily, Helsingin Sanomat (26 September 2000).

The paper notes that the EU force is meant to fulfill tasks that include humanitarian work, helping to restore peace and keeping it, civilian crisis management and evacuation of EU citizens in distress.

"The definitions, however, are general in tone. For instance, the often used term 'separation of warring parties by force' can mean almost anything", the paper says.

Helsingin Sanomat quotes the commander of the Finnish defence forces, General Gustav Hägglund, who has said that co-operation does not mean an obligation to mutual defence. On the other hand, Hägglund considers it logical "that a community of 370 million, which has notable intellectual and economic resources, intensifies its military co-operation".

"If there was no co-operation, one would always be dependent on outside help which could be used for economic and political advantage, in other ways as a means to put pressure on the EU", Hägglund says.

Helsingin Sanomat writes that EU countries are not building a parallel military alliance or Euro army. Instead, they are strengthening co-operation between their armed forces.

"The direction chosen, however, takes the EU countries towards creating their own strategic capacity in fields where they are weak, like intelligence, air transport capacity, communication and logistics. This is the only way to create a reality where the EU cannot be under outside pressure.

"For Finland, the EU-led defence co-operation is meaningful because our country can participate in early stages of planning instead of being faced by facts decided by others, as happened in Bosnia and Kosovo. Also, in Finland a widely held view emphasises that security is an important element of EU membership."

Helsingin Sanomat points out that in the near future a decison will have to be made on how the defence dimension called crisis management will be connected with current EU institutions.

"The task is not easy because military matters differ from integration issues heretofore dealt by the rigid EU bureaucracy. There are fears inside the EU machinery that Javier Solana in his leading role in the foreign and security policy aims to separate defence issues into an independent entity which will operate independently of the Commission and the Council of Ministers."

The paper further observes that France as the current President of the EU has put a lot work into developing crisis management.

"Integrating the non-aligned members of the EU as closely as possible into this co-operation is also for Finland a matter of utmost importance because possible threats from outside the EU countries still exist and the EU must be able to take care of its interests in order to maintain its credibility."

See also:

From our archive:

European security: Conflict of two doctrines

28 July 2000

EU police force project welcomed

13 June 2000

"EU hard core membership important for security"

31 May 2000

Non-aligned countries face European security turmoil

12 May 2000

"EU defence will make non-alignment redundant"

6 January 2000

EU preferred to NATO on crisis management

30 November 1999

Defence plans alarm small EU countries

16 October 1999

Non-aligned countries face problems with EU defence

13 July 1999


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