Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Defence responding to the Committee's Questions on various matters relating to European Security and Defence


  The EU has not allocated proportions of the Headline Goal to individual Member States. It was agreed at Helsinki that contributions would be made on a voluntary basis. All EU Member States have publicly pledged to improve their national military capability towards this collective goal but how this is implemented in national programmes is for each government to decide. The range and type of capabilities offered is very extensive, from teeth arm units, through equipment capabilities to a range of logistic support functions, and are not directly comparable in terms of their relative worth to the Headline Goal. The unclassified summaries made available by Member States of their contributions have been placed in the library of the House. To attempt to measure the value of individual commitments by use of a standard indicator is not practical. Any attempt to agree such an indicator, or set of indicators, would be likely to be divisive and to distract attention from concrete efforts to improve capability. For a number of geographical and historical reasons, Member States have differing proportions of their armed forces configured and available for the type of operation envisaged in the Headline Goal, although virtually all have plans in place to increase deployability. Member States also account for defence and wider crisis management expenditure in different ways thus adding to the difficulty of achieving a meaningful comparison.


  ESDP political/military procedures will be exercised for the first time in May 2002. This exercise will test top level co-ordination and the decision-making procedures of the ESDP bodies, including the Political and Security Committee, the EU Military Committee and the EU Military Staff. This will be a valuable exercise for proving the new high level structures and procedures. In 2003 there are plans to hold another exercise at this higher strategic level with EU and NATO bodies, and a workshop to examine the role of deployable Force Headquarters at the operational level. Beyond that the EU envisages further exercises, expanded to include testing of the linkages and procedures between the higher strategic level structures and potential Operational Headquarters for EU-led operations, for example with SHAPE and potential national Headquarters such as the UK Permanent Joint Headquarters at Northwood. However, no detailed exercise planning beyond 2002 has been carried out. There are no plans to devise separate EU field exercises. We do not assess this as necessary as current programmes of national, NATO and bi or multi-lateral exercises are already extensive and are deemed sufficient. In particular exercises already contain a mix of warfighting and peace-keeping themes and so generate the capability to deal with the sort of roles that the EU is likely to undertake.


  The Headline Goal itself is for EU Member States to meet. Nevertheless, the EU has welcomed the contributions of a number of non-EU countries who have pledged a wide range of military capabilities to the process and have signaled a willingness to participate in EU-led operations. These countries are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey. However, this information has been received in confidence from foreign governments and it is not therefore possible to share these details with the Committee.


  On 18 December, the Secretary of State for Defence signed an inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to allow the A400M contract to be placed. The contract itself was signed on the same day by the Organisation for Joint Armaments Co-operation (OCCAR), on behalf of the partner nations, and by the contractor Airbus Military. It provides for the development and manufacture of 196 aircraft in a single launch order. The UK's share is 25 aircraft. OCCAR will manage the programme to standards agreed by the partner nations.

  The A400M MoU and contract will enter into force once final Bundestag approval has been given for the German commitment. The German Government is confident that this will be forthcoming. The commitment of other nations, including the UK, is subject to the German signature becoming effective. If this has not happened by the end of January 2002, these authorisations will lapse, providing a further opportunity to review the position.

  Were nations to withdraw or make any reductions once the MoU and contract have become effective, full reparations would be required to the remaining participants in respect of any increase in costs to them as a result of such changes. In addition, the industrial workshare arrangements would have to be reviewed.

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