April 23, 2013
Germany proposes rapid-response EU military training corps
Luxembourg: European Union defence ministers expressed interest Tuesday in a German proposal for the bloc‘s rapid-response battlegroups to run military training missions such as those conducted in Mali and Somalia, a top EU diplomat said.
“The German proposal is informed by real-life concepts, because we see that we do a lot of training,” said Maciej Popowski of the European External Action Service.
Battlegroups were launched in 2007 to provide a quick military EU intervention in crisis situations, but have never been deployed in practice, prompting a rethink about how they could be used.
“These battlegroups have established themselves,” said German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere ahead of Tuesday‘s meeting with his EU counterparts. “They are a strong element of joint European security policy.”
The fact that they had not yet been deployed did not speak against the concept, he said.
“We see now that there are many situations in which the EU is challenged in different ways, for example in the rapid provision of training,” the minister added.
Such a training corps could be involved in “observation, advice or support missions,” either under the EU umbrella or on behalf of the United Nataions, he said.
Popowski said the concept still had to be discussed with EU member states, adding, “It was very well received, in the sense that it would fit into a potential reflection on the adjustment of the battlegroup concept.”
The training element would not be at the expense of other battlegroup tasks but to “enhance the potential field of application,” the diplomat said.
General Patrick de Rousiers, the chairman of the EU Military Committee, said the German idea was one of several member state proposals on the future of the battlegroups.
EU leaders are to discuss the bloc‘s defence policy and military capabilities at their summit in December.