Cologne Summit: France presses for new defence force
Friday 04 June 1999
As European leaders took an historic first step by agreeing to a new defence role, Paris made it clear that it would table new proposals to toughen up the agreement designed to allow the EU to undertake its own crisis intervention mission.
In discussions among heads of government Jacques Chirac, the French president, said that Eurocorps, a rapid reaction force in which France is prominent, should be at the centre of the new EU defence identity. Eurocorps, which is currently represented in Bosnia in a peace-keeping role, involves France, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg and is the first pan-European rapid reaction force. French moves to expand it, first mooted over the weekend in a Franco- German meeting, will raise new questions for the British government which yesterday said it has "yet to take a position" on membership. Mr Blair has been keen to boost Britain's role in European defence and reached a new understanding with the French in St Malo last December.
That marked a departure from the previous government which resisted any European moves to increase defence.Whether Mr Blair will be willing to commit British forces to Eurocorps, something his opponents could present as an embryo European army, remains to be seen. Britain has repeatedly stated that the new initiative is a collaborative one, and that there will be no role for the European Commission. In an outspoken performance, President Chirac called for a permanent political and security committee to be installed in Brussels, presided over by Europe's new high representative for foreign affairs, expected to be Javier Solana, the current Nato Secretary General. France also called for the military and defence planning capabilities of the Western European Union to be incorporated into the EU, and for regular meetings of defence ministers.
A French government spokeswoman said Mr Blair had responded positively to Mr Chirac's intervention, although British and German officials were more non-committal, saying they would need to see the detail first. Yesterday's deal does make provision for many of the developments envisaged by France if there is support. It argues that the initiative may require a permanent body in Brussels.
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 4 Teenagers irritable because early school hours mess with their biological clocks
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
Isis could become 'world’s first truly terrorist state' and bomb UK with nuclear and chemical weapons, Theresa May warns
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...
£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prima...
£121 - £142 per annum: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prim...
£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Primary supply teacher Hertford...