EU to Set Up Joint Command Centre for Foreign MissionsMarch 6, 2017 in European Union
According to a senior European Union (EU) official in Brussels, EU states are expected to decide on Monday 6 March to create a joint command centre for the bloc’s foreign training missions in the Central African Republic (CAR), Mali and Somalia.
The official disclosed that foreign ministers of the 28 EU states are due to meet in Brussels on Monday where they will decide on creating the so-called Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) so that it can take over this spring. It would command the bloc’s “non-executive military missions” like the three military training missions which it currently runs. In the future however it would also cover any capacity-building, monitoring or demobilisation and disarmament military missions. While symbolically significant, the MPCC would in practice sit within other existing structures in Brussels and it would be led by the current head of the EU’s military staff. Highlighting how controversial the matter is amongst EU states, they have long debated whether the person should be called the “commander” or a “director” of the new body. Any movement towards an “EU military headquarters” has long been opposed by Britain, which is the bloc’s leading military power, however the idea has been revived by German and France since the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.
Such an agreement however would only mark a small step forward on the EU’s quest for more security and defense cooperation. While politically sensitive and stalled for years, the bloc has now restarted such efforts, a move that was spurred by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and a growing threat from Islamic militants. Furthermore, suggestions by newly elected US President Donald Trump, that he could be less committed to the security of Washington’s NATO allies in Europe if they do not meet their defense spending goals, have also galvanized the EU, effectively creating a new sense of urgency.