European Union leaders plan to move forward with the creation of an EU military headquarters within the next few days – and warn that Britain may still be expected to take part, even after Brexit.
Plans to set up a joint Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) facility, agreed by all 28 member states in March, had been stalled by British objections to the facility having an operational military role.
But speaking to reports in Brussels following a meeting of EU defence ministers on Thursday, the EU’s Foreign Affairs commissioner Federica Mogherini said the path was now clear, and plans would be progressed within the next few days.
“I understand it is finalised. I understand we have a couple of days to have the official text in place,” she said.
Britain has historically maintained opposition to an EU army, preferring instead to emphasise NATO over a possible joint European force. But quizzed on British involvement in light of Brexit, Mogherini made it clear that both sides expected the UK to play a full part in the plans until Brexit takes place, in 2019 – and possibly beyond.
“Obviously, once you are not a member state you cannot take part in the decisions but you can take part” in the missions, Mogherini said.
She added that the UK is an “important military player but no way as important compared to the other 27 member states [combined].”
A statement of conclusions agreed by the ministers and released by the Council of the EU yesterday stated that the Council “looks forward to the effective establishment, as a short term objective, of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) within the EU Military Staff in Brussels.”
The MPCC will work “under the political control and strategic guidance of the Political and Security Committee, the document continues, and is expected to undertake “three EU Training Missions deployed in Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia” under the guidance of the “Director General of the EU Military Staff.”
The document also reiterates the Council’s commitment to the strengthening of “EU Battlegroups (EUBGs)”, which, it says “are considered to be a coherent force package capable of conducting stand-alone operations.”