Brussels, 01 Apr 2003
A report calling for the establishment of an armament and research agency, was adopted by the Parliament's foreign affairs committee on March.
The establishment of such an agency would be part of an overall objective to build the foundations for a new European defence architecture.
The report states that the proposed armament and research agency would be entrusted with the task of evaluating and improving Member States' commitments to defence by assessing the proportion of their defence budgets in relation to GDP, and in particular the proportion of the defence budget devoted to equipment and research expenditure.
Part of its workload would include evaluating the EU's military readiness with regard to its force deployment capabilities and their interoperability. It is also envisaged that the agency would be responsible for encouraging Member States to adopt a harmonised purchasing policy and to run pilot projects for cooperation among themselves.
In terms of financial support, the report stipulates that the agency would also have its own budget. This would initially be restricted to research and development relating to new technologies where the spin-offs for civilian industry are known.
The report also calls for practical arrangements for the agency's operation to be drawn up in consultation with the European Parliament, or by co-decision.
Other proposals include the deployment, from 2004, of a 5,000 strong force, to be kept in a state of permanent readiness for humanitarian and rescue operations. The report suggests a collective defence clause similar to that of NATO should also be drawn up, which would apply to any Member States wishing to take part.
Drawn up by French MEP Philippe Morillon, the report gave rise to a lively debate where some 200 amendments were tabled before the vote was taken.
Report on the new European security and defence architecture - priorities and deficiencies
Sectoral Measures: "The possible creation of an inter-governmental defence capabilities development and acquisition agency" (Extract from Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council, 20-21 March)