Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-----------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-----------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


The BBC's Colin Blane in Brussels
"The crisis management force is not a European army"
 real 28k

Monday, 6 December, 1999, 23:17 GMT
EU defence force outlined
flags The plans will be discussed further by EU leaders at the weekend


European Union foreign ministers have agreed an outline for a rapid reaction force of up to 60,000 troops by 2003.

At a meeting in Brussels, they approved a report submitted by the Finnish EU presidency for discussion and endorsement by the 15 heads of government at their summit in Helsinki this weekend.

"The ministers accepted the report without making any changes," an EU spokesman said.

He added that some member states had reservations on issues such as decision-making procedures and co-operation with Nato, but that they had opted to leave it to the heads of government to make any changes to the text.

Humanitarian role

The force is intended to respond fast in a crisis and strengthen Europe's security identity, but is not being seen as a European army.

BBC EU correspondent Colin Blane says it would enable members to tackle humanitarian crises such as Kosovo without relying on the United States.

Under proposals contained in the 13-page Finnish report, the force would comprise up to 15 brigades, or 50,000 to 60,000 personnel, and include naval and air elements.

It should be able to deploy fully in 60 days and be able to sustain such a deployment for at least a year.

Enlargement

The 15 foreign ministers also focused on progress towards enlargement of the EU and the internal reforms of the Union the arrival of new member states will require.

They recommended negotiations should begin with the second wave of six countries hoping to join the EU.

Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Malta are all likely to be admitted into preliminary membership talks next year.

Enlargement procedures for the six front-line applicants - Cyprus, the Czech republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia - "should be ready by 2002, when the door should be open and the speed of accession will be determined", said a Finnish presidency spokesman.

Chechnya

Another issue the foreign ministers discussed was Russia's military intervention in Chechnya.

A statement condemned Russia's ultimatum to Chechens to leave their capital or die and said the EU was considering not signing accords with Moscow to put pressure on it to end the bloodshed.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Europe Contents

Country profiles

See also:
13 Oct 99 |  Europe
EU set to spread east
11 Oct 99 |  Europe
EU aspirants seek negotiation deadline
30 Sep 99 |  Europe
German Chancellor urges faster EU enlargement

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories