HC Deb 07 May 1996 vol 277 c18W
28. Mr. MacShane

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent initiatives on European defence co-operation he has instigated; and if he will make a statement. [26946]

Mr. Soames

We have pursued a number of initiatives in support of the Government's policy on European defence announced in our memorandum of 1 March last year. In NATO, we have actively pursued implementation of measures designed to support development of a European defence identity within the alliance, consistent with the NATO summit agreement of January 1994. In the Western European Union, and in particular during the United Kingdom's six-month presidency of WEU, which began on 1 January this year, we have pursued a number of initiatives, including the establishment of a situation centre and introduction of a progressive exercise programme with the aim of strengthening the WEU's capability to mount and control certain humanitarian and rescue, peacekeeping and other crisis management tasks.