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EU mulls potential Mali, Libyan missions

Nov. 10, 2012 - 01:03PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 10, 2012 - 01:03PM  |  
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BRUSSELS — The European Union is considering whether to launch two new missions in Africa.

"We are working on the crisis management concepts for two potential new missions: a military mission in Mali and a civilian mission in Libya that will focus on border management particularly," said the EU's High Representative Catherine Ashton at a meeting of the Security and Defence Subcommittee of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee here on Nov. 7. November.

With regard to Libya, Ms Ashton's spokesperson, Sebastien Brabant, said, that "we are ready to dispatch a team of experts to engage discussion with the interlocutors that would be identified by the Libyan authorities. Following the formation of the new Libyan government this fact finding mission is now planning to deploy in the third week of November."

The fact finding mission needs to identify the detail of what exactly the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission would do, where and when, he added.

As for Mali, Ashton's spokesperson said that "in accordance with a mandate given to it by the Foreign Affairs Council of 15 October, the European External Action Service is currently working on a crisis management concept relating to the training and modernization of Malian forces. Direct military support from the EU in future operations by the Malian Army is not envisaged. During the Foreign Affairs Council of 19 November, the high representative will present the first results of this approach to EU member states".

During the Security and Defence Subcommittee meeting on Nov. 7, November, Ashton also said the EU was following a two-pronged approach in its pooling and sharing efforts to develop capabilities.

One aspect of that is "concrete projects" and here she described air-to-air refueling as "a huge issue as we've discovered during the conflict in Libya."

The other is to make the whole approach of pooling and sharing "more systematic, so it's part of the national planning processes, while also making sure that that fits well with wider European policies, research and development, dual use, the way that we work with the defense industry".

"All of this is crucial to being more able to use our resources effectively," she said, noting that both topics will be on the agenda of an EU defense ministers meeting on 19 November.

Also on Wednesday, Parliamentarians MEPs also discussed key EU common security and defense policy (CSDP) issues with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the basis of a resolution drafted by parliamentarian Arnaud Danjean, Security and Defence Subcommittee chair, French centre-right MEP Arnaud Danjeanwarning that the EU faces strategic decline without an ambitious common security and defence policy.

The resolution says that "this crucial Union policy [i.e. CSDP] must include a military dimension and is essential in order to ensure a comprehensive and joined-up approach to the security and defence of the EU." The resolution will be voted by the European Parliament as a whole at its November session in Strasbourg.

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