EU members discuss new military command center

Mark Ross
By Mark Ross
March 6, 2017World News
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European Union states were expected to take the formal decision on Monday (March 6) to create a joint command center for the bloc’s military missions, a symbolic step in the renewed quest for more security and defense cooperation, officials and diplomats in Brussels said.

The politically-sensitive issue of pulling EU states closer together on defense has been stalled for years, but the theme returned to the EU agenda following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and amid a growing threat from Islamic militants.

On Monday, foreign and defense ministers of the 28 EU states meeting in Brussels will decide on creating the so-called Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) so that it can launch this spring.

The MPCC would command the bloc’s “non-executive military missions.” These include the three military training missions the bloc now runs in Mali, Somalia and Central African Republic.

In the future, it would also cover any capacity-building, monitoring or demobilization and disarmament military missions.

While symbolically significant, the MPCC would in practice consist of some 30 people and sit within the bloc’s foreign policy service in Brussels. It will most likely be led by the current head of the military staff at the EU’s foreign arm.

Highlighting how controversial the matter still is among EU states, they debated at length on whether the head of the new body should be called a “commander.” They eventually settled for “director.”

Any movement towards an “EU military headquarters” has long been opposed by Britain, the bloc’s leading military power, but the idea has been revived by Germany and France since the British voted to leave the EU.

(Reuters

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