§ Mr. Soames
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are to set up a joint Franco-British rapid deployment force; and if he will make a statement. 11W
§ Mr. Ingram
There are no plans to set up a joint Franco-British rapid deployment force. However, as part of the Helsinki Headline Goal, member states agreed to develop rapid response elements available and deployable at very high readiness. The British, French and German governments are proposing that EU member states create Battle Group-sized forces, deployable within 15 days, by 2007. Member states would be able to offer such formations individually—as is likely to be the case for the United Kingdom—or on a multi-national basis.
§ Mr. Soames
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress achieved by the Helsinki Project Catalogue groups tasked with studying(a) air-to-air refuelling, (b) combat search and rescue, (c) strategic unmanned air vehicles, (d) nuclear, biological and chemical protection, (e) headquarters, (f) special operations forces, (g) theatre ballistic missile defence, (h) strategic airlift, (i) interoperability, (j) space, (k) intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, (l) strategic sealift, (m) collective medical protection, (n) attack helicopters and (o) support helicopters. 
§ Mr. Ingram
Progress is continuing across the 15 Project Groups established under the European Capabilities Action Plan since May 2003, although all are at different stages in their development. In strategic mobility, for example, and in conjunction with NATO, the Project Group is introducing a 'Strategic Air Lift Interim Solution' or SALIS, (in place until A-400M becomes available) and the co-ordinated use of assets by a Strategic Air Lift Co-ordination Centre, co-located with the European Airlift Co-ordination Centre at Eindhoven. There are also important qualitative outputs under development across the Project Groups, for example in systems interoperability, operational doctrine, and training. The Council Conclusions of 17 November 2003 underlined the need to disseminate Project Group objectives, timelines and reporting procedures more widely, and this information will be presented shortly as an integral part of the Single Progress Report compiled once during each Presidency. It is anticipated that a Capability Improvement Chart showing the state-of-play of the Project Groups in a clearly digestible format will accompany the Single Progress Report.