HC Deb 08 September 2003 vol 410 c43W
Mr. Viggers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the European Rapid Reaction Force. [128424]

Mr. Hoon

Most of the 144 Capability targets which make up the Headline Goal have been met but there remain areas of significant shortfalls, some in key areas such as strategic lift, support helicopters and air-to-air refuelling. At Thessaloniki in June, the European Council agreed that the EU now has operational capability across the full range of Petersberg Tasks, limited and constrained by recognised shortfalls, which can be alleviated by the further development of the EU's military capabilities.

Although EU nations are strengthening their military capabilities, there is no standing European Rapid Reaction Force nor any EU agreement to create one. Existing national or multinational forces, declared under the Helsinki Headline Goal, will be made available to the EU on a voluntary, case-by-case basis when required for a crisis management operation.