The NATO Secretary General has made clear that he believes that the European Union is after a warfighting capacity. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was talking to Spanish newspaper El Pais yesterday when he said;
"Why is the EU creating battle groups? It is not just to help rebuild a country".
"If the EU creates battlegroups and NATO a rapid-reaction force, I would say we shouldn't think the EU is for soft power and NATO for tough power", he went on.
Now according to the EU the Battlegroups are for,
"autonomous rapid response operations either for stand-alone operations or for the initial phase of larger operations".
These forces are designed to
"develop its military tools and capabilities, where requirements overlap, in a mutually reinforcing way with NATO initiatives such as the NATO response force."
All this would come undert the command of;
The EU civilian and military planning cell
The creation of the EU civilian and military cell in Brussels is under way. It is a step in the EU's effort to enhance its capacity for crisis management planning and achieve a greater coherence of the civilian and military instruments and structures at its disposal in responding to crises.
The cell, under the responsibility of High Representative Javier Solana, will assist in co-ordinating civilian operations and have the responsibility for generating the capacity to plan and run an autonomous EU military operation.
So all those like the Irish, the Maltese, the Austrians, the Swedes and the Finns who value their neutrality, its about time to wave goodbye to it. After all in the Constitution (Art III 309) it says "joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peacekeeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking and post-conflict stabilisation" will be undertaken.
And they will be undertaken by "Battlegroups"