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War In The Balkans: EU gets defence role

War in the Balkans: Europe
EUROPE'S LEADERS are expected to cross a new threshold today, by giving the EU its first responsibilities for defence and installing Nato's secretary-general, Javier Solana, as the first European foreign affairs supremo.

Mr Solana's anticipated appointment as the new "high representative" for foreign affairs will crown an ambitious new attempt to boost the EU's defence and security role. The decision will be combined with the EU's first direct move into defence and security and a wide-ranging plan to beef up EU capabilities, probably including the creation of a military staff to co-ordinate policy.

European heads of government will also lay plans to boost the EU's ability to deploy troops quickly, to command and control them in the field and encourage the strengthening of defence research capabilities through joint projects.

The defence plans will be given the go-ahead at today's summit in Cologne.