HC Deb 01 May 2003 vol 404 cc448-9W
Mr. Soames

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy objectives for a European security and defence identity. [110795]

Mr. Hoon

The European Security and Defence Identity was initiated within NATO to enable European Allies to make a more coherent and effective contribution to the missions and activities of the Alliance and to respond to European requirements. In addition to its objective to improve European military capabilities, it recognised the European Union's resolve, supported by the United Kingdom Government, to have a capacity for autonomous action so that it could take decisions and approve military action when the Alliance as whole was not engaged. Our policy is for NATO and the EU to be strategic partners in crisis management and the development of military capabilities. This partnership is underpinned by the recent implementation of the 'Berlin Plus' arrangements through which the EU has assured access to NATO planning capabilities and a presumption of availability of NATO common assets and capabilities. This will ensure that the EU's European Security and Defence Policy continues to develop in a manner that is supportive of, and supported by, NATO.

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