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EU fails to deliver on defence
Former British diplomat paints a scathing picture

By Michel Kerres, NRC Handelsblad

When talking about the European defence initiatives, Witney's words have a cynical ring to them. He doesn't want to ridicule the work of his former colleagues, he says, but he wants to make something clear.

In 2005 the European Union set up a system of rotating 'battle groups', he explains.The various `battle groups' are on permanent standby, ready for action anywhere in the world. But before the soldiers can go anywhere, there is the small question of a decision on which of the seven head-quarters will lead the operation. ,,That is, if there is anywhere to send them in the first place, because a suitable conflict hasn't been found since 2005."

The EU does send out special missions but it isn't always easy to find personnel or equipment. It spent six months looking for helicopters for a mission to Chad. Eventually Russia stepped in. On September 1, the day on which European leaders discussed taking a tough stance on Russia following the conflict in Georgia, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev made four helicopters and 200 staff available for the EU mission. The 27 EU member states spend over 200 billion euros on defence a year, but they couldn't find 16 transport helicopters...

by Magnifico on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 06:11:15 PM EST
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