HL Deb 21 February 2005 vol 669 c171WA
Lord Dykes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are satisfied with the progress made so far in defence co-operation between the United Kingdom and France under the 1998 St Malo Agreement. [HL1239]

Lord Bach

The 1998 St Malo text declares the intentions of the UK and French heads of state to unite in their efforts to enable the European Union to play a full role on the international stage. It concentrates particularly on what is now known as European Security and Defence Policy, while recognising the need to respect countries different situations in relation to NATO.

Since 1998 ESDP has developed considerably. It has enabled the EU to launch three peacekeeping operations: in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2003); Macedonia (2003); and Bosnia (launched in December 2004). The current Bosnia operation took over from NATO's SFOR and is proving the efficacy of the Berlin Plus arrangements agreed in 2003 for EU access to NATO assets.

Other successes include the establishment of the European Defence Agency in 2004 to drive forward capability development and improve defence/industrial co-operation; the continuing development of a capacity for military and joint civil/military planning, based on agreed consultation arrangements with NATO; and the establishment of initial operating capability for the rapid-response Battlegroups initiative, with full operating capability expected in 2007.

The UK and France have collaborated closely throughout. For example, the UK and France jointly proposed the Battlegroups initiative, and the December 2004 council agreement on planning capabilities was based on a UK-France-Germany proposal.

The Government are therefore fully satisfied with progress to date. They will continue to play a leading role in further progress.

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