HC Deb 20 November 2000 vol 357 cc6-9W
Mr. Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will state(a) the title and function of each of the military bodies established within the Secretariat of the Union, as agreed in December 1999, (b) the names of each of the representatives of the United Kingdom, together with their service rank, appointed to each, together with any other office held by them, (c) the body or institution of the Union that supervises the activities of each committee and to whom they are accountable and (d) what meetings of the Union he has attended in 2000 with members of the Governments of other member states. [139084]

Mr. Hoon

At the Helsinki European Council in December 1999, EU member states agreed to the establishment of a Military Committee and a Military Staff within the European Council.

The function of the Military Committee is to give military advice, make recommendations to the Political and Security Committee and provide military direction to the Military Staff. The Chairman of the Military Committee will attend meetings of the Council when decisions with defence implications are to be taken.

The function of the Military Staff is to provide military expertise and support to the Common European Security and Defence Policy, including on the conduct of EU—led operations. The Military Staff will perform early warning, situation assessment and strategic planning for Petersberg tasks.

As an interim measure, the Council agreed to set up the following bodies within the Council as of March 2000:

  1. (a) An interim body of military representatives of member states' Chiefs of Defence to give military advice as required to the interim political and security committee.
  2. (b) Military experts seconded from member states to strengthen the Council Secretariat in order to assist in the work on the CESDP and to form the nucleus of the future Military Staff.

The UK representative in the interim body of military representatives is the Chief of Defence Staff. This body, known as the interim Military Body, (iMB) meets at Chiefs of Defence Staff level as and when needed. A Lieutenant General acts as the permanent representative in the iMB on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff for day—to—day business. In addition to his role in the iMB the Lieutenant General is also the UK representative in both the NATO Military Committee and the Western European Union Military Delegates.

The military experts seconded from member states to strengthen the Council Secretariat are known as the interim Military Staff (iMS). The UK has seconded two officers to the iMS, a Major General to head the body and one staff officer (Lt. Col. level).

The interim Military Staff is accountable to the interim Military Body, which is in turn accountable to the General Affairs Council.

I attended General Affairs Council meetings on 14 June and 20 November. The Minister for Defence Procurement attended a meeting of the General Affairs Council on my behalf on 20 March.

In addition, I attended informal meetings of EU Defence Ministers on 28 February and 22 September.

Mr. Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the assessment he has made of the impact on the organisational efficacy and cost of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and of the chain of command to individual military units of adding to the existing NATO contingency planning, the parallel obligations now contemplated within the European Union; and if he will indicate what extra forces will be necessary to fulfil such dual demands. [139056]

Mr. Hoon

The commitments we have made to develop the military crisis management capabilities of the European Union will strengthen both the European Union and NATO. The establishment of a small military staff within the EU will be partly offset by the winding down of the Western European Union. British forces will be contributed to multinational operations in the framework of the European Union on a voluntary basis, depending on the circumstances at the time.

Mr. Cash

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of how many British(a) military personnel, (b) aircraft, (c) ships and (d) armoured vehicles he estimates will be seconded to the EU under plans put forward at the St. Malo, Cologne and Feira meetings for the development of EU defence policy. [138681]

Mr. Hoon

[holding answer 16 November 2000]: No British forces are being seconded to the EU. The UK, along with other member states, will identify a range of forces from which a contribution to an EU—led military crisis management operation could be drawn.

The details of this contribution will not be finalised until the Capability Commitments Conference on 20 November.

Mr. Reed

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what United Kingdom forces will be offered to help meet the Headline Goal adopted by the EU at its Helsinki summit; and if he will make a statement. [139515]

Mr. Hoon

Over the last six months, military experts of EU member states assisted by NATO planners, have carried out a detailed assessment of the forces and capabilities required by the EU to enable it to carry out by 2003 the full range of crisis management ("Petersberg") tasks envisaged in the Headline Goal set at Helsinki. The UK has identified a pool of forces and capabilities which would enable it to make a powerful contribution to such options in support of the Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy, where NATO as a whole is not engaged. UK participation in any particular operation, and the nature of our contribution, would be matters for decision by the UK Government in the light of circumstances at the time.

In the maximum scale operation envisaged at Helsinki—a corps level of deployment of up to 60,000 troops—the UK component could be around 12,500 strong. Maritime and air deployments of up to 18 warships and 72 combat aircraft could be made in addition.

The pool provides for an element of choice in order to cater for differing operational, political or geographical circumstances. The full details of the forces identified are confidential, but the major elements are as follows:


Either an armoured or mechanised brigade, each of which could be sustained for at least a year; or an air assault brigade which would be deployed for up to six months. Combat support enabling capabilities such as artillery, and short range air defence and attack helicopters could be deployed in addition, supported by the appropriate complement of logistic enablers and national support troops.


Maritime forces comprising one aircraft carrier, two nuclear powered submarines, deployment of up to four destroyers/frigates, support vessels; and an amphibious task group, including one helicopter landing platform and an amphibious brigade. The aircraft carrier, helicopter landing platform and submarines could not necessarily be sustained continuously for a whole year.


Up to 72 combat aircraft (including Sea Harriers), with associated support aircraft including strategic transport. This number would be available for six months to cover initial theatre entry. For a longer term commitment the total would reduce.

The development of the EU Headline Goal and the commitment of EU member states to delivering the capabilities required are important steps in a wider process of improving European defence capabilities. They will reinforce efforts being made nationally and multinationally, in particular, in response to NATO initiatives, and, in so doing, strengthen the European contribution to the Alliance.

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