European Union defense ministers meet informally Monday to discuss plans to set up an EU military planning cell.
EU defense ministers gather in Brussels April 5 to discuss plans to set up an EU military planning cell. The idea, agreed in principle last year, will be on the agenda as ministers meet ‘informally’ in Brussels to sketch out some of the details of the plan. Initially made up of 20 or so planners, the unit will be responsible for preparing EU peacekeeping, crisis management and humanitarian operations. The ministers will also discuss plans to create a set of EU battle groups that would be able to conduct operations in a series of environments. Foreign ministers last month agreed to take up the plan, asking the Irish Presidency to produce a report by June. The plan is expected to mirror a previous one tabled by France, Germany and the UK. The big three proposed seven ‘battle groups’ be set up of 1,500 troops, each able to fight in a different environment. The groups should be ready for deployment at 15 days notice and be able to stay in the field for 30 days. It is likely that the groups will act as a standing force for UN operations, but will also be able to take up the EU’s own missions. Also on the agenda of Monday's meeting is the takeover of NATO's SFOR mission in Bosnia, which the EU looks set to take on late this year. (EUobserver.com)