HC Deb 20 December 1999 vol 341 cc364-5W
Mr. Drew

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on Britain's contribution towards the Rapid Reaction Force which was agreed in principle at the Helsinki Conference. [103226]

Mr. Hoon

The recent Helsinki European Council agreed that EU member states, co-operating voluntarily, must be able, by 2003, to deploy within 60 days and sustain for at least one year, military forces of up to 50,000 to 60,000 persons capable of the full range of Petersberg tasks. In particular this will mean developing the capabilities of Europe's existing national forces as the pool from which such a deployment could be drawn for any specific operation. We are not creating a European Army or a standing European Rapid Reaction Force.

The Council also agreed that this headline goal should be elaborated and a method established for defining national contributions. This will be addressed in the coming months.