Dispute Over Norwegians in EU Battle Groups | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.11.2004
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Dispute Over Norwegians in EU Battle Groups

Norwegian legal experts have called into question the participation of Norwegian troops in the EU battle groups.

With the backing of the Social Democrat opposition party, there is now a majority in the Oslo Parliament to commit 150 troops to EU forces, but leading legal experts have raised doubts as to whether such participation would conflict with the Norwegian constitution. "To put Norwegian forces at foreign command is in conflict with the Constitution," said Professor Stale Eskeland at the Oslo University according to Norwegian daily Aftenposten. Defense minister Kristn Krohn Devold has guaranteed that Norway would keep control on what specific tasks Norwegian soldiers are to take up. Professor Eivind Smithm also from the Oslo university doubted however that such a veto right would exist. "These battle groups must be operational within 10 days. I doubt any state could say 'no we do not participate' in that short period," he told Aftenposten. The EU battle groups project will see the creation of groups of 1,500 soldiers, which could be sent to international trouble spots from 2007, according to the "Headline Goal 2010" document, adopted by EU defesce ministers in Brussels in May. On Nov. 25, EU defense ministers will meet in Brussels where each of them is to announce their contribution to the common battle groups. Finland and Sweden have agreed to set up a joint Nordic battle group as their contribution to an EU rapidly deployable force. The deal was announced by Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson and Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen during a meeting in October at which they also urged Norway to join the group. Norway has twice voted against joining the European Union but regularly aligns itself with EU statements and contributes to the EU budget. Norway is a full member of NATO. (EUobserver.com)

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