The radical plans would apply to resources, doctrines and
It is part of a strategy aimed at creating defence structures in
the European Union that are more coherent, homogenous and able to
respond quickly to crises.
Even though 11 European Union countries are members of the Nato
military alliance, EU member states have made little progress
towards harmonising the military equipment they purchase or
co-ordinating their capabilities.
The calls for a greater push on military capabilities were made
by Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief and Antonio Martini,
defence minister of Italy, also chairing the EU's rotating
Both said Europe's ambitions to have a strong and effective
security and defence policy, particularly in crisis management,
conflict prevention and peacekeeping missions could not be achieved
without better capabilities.
These included logistics and the ability to sustain troops on the
ground for long periods of time.
A paper presented by Italy, said if the EU wanted to be active,
"it must develop a strategic culture that favours early, rapid, and
when necessary robust intervention in order to try to head off or
Italy also called for a special agency to co-ordinate
capabilities among the member states. Geoff Hoon, British defence
minister, and Henk Kamp, his Dutch counterpart, suggested Mr Solana
head the agency, which could be set up by December.
Mr Solana, who has spent the past four years trying to improve
Europe's security/defence capabilities, said there was little point
in member countries offering forces if they were not "usable in real
The EU, he added, needed armed forces that were "agile, flexible,
deployable and sustainable".
That meant combining forces, focusing on quality and beefing up
In 2000, the EU average defence expenditure as a percentage of
gross domestic product was 1.8 per cent compared with the Pentagon's
3.1 per cent.
Lord Robertson, Nato secretary general, said yesterday that the
Europeans had to spend on quality not quantity, particularly on
research and development.