HomeAFPBrussels pushes for EU reaction force by 2025

Brussels pushes for EU reaction force by 2025

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Brussels is pushing to launch a 5,000-strong EU rapid response force by 2025 as the bloc seeks to bolster its defence capacity, a document seen by AFP said.

The proposal contained in a “Strategic Compass” review of threats facing the EU is to be presented to foreign and defence ministers of the 27 member states next Monday by foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The West’s chaotic departure from Afghanistan and a new alliance between the US, Britain and Australia that saw France lose a major submarine deal have fuelled calls for the EU to act more independently.

Paris has spearheaded the push for greater “strategic autonomy”. But there is resistance from eastern EU members wary of loosening ties with ally Washington, which they see as the key bulwark against Russia.

“We need to be able to respond to imminent threats or quickly react to a crisis situation, for example a rescue and evacuation mission or a stabilisation operation in a hostile environment,” the draft version of the document says.

“To this end, we will develop an EU Rapid Deployment Capacity that will allow us to swiftly deploy a modular force of up to 5,000 troops, including land, air and maritime components.”

Borrell first mooted the proposal for a 5,000-strong force in March, but there is hesitancy from some capitals that it could add more strain to thinly-stretched militaries.

The draft document calls for the new capability to be based on a similar, smaller-scale system launched over a decade ago, but never deployed due to lack of political will.

The document says the force should start training from 2023 and become “fully operational” by 2025.

EU leaders are set to discuss the proposals later in the year before the bloc agrees to a final version next March.

The wide-ranging draft document also includes plans to try to bolster the bloc’s impact around the globe, including bolstering naval deployments in the Indo-Pacific region.

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