WEDNESDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2000 _________ Members present: Mr Bruce George, in the Chair Mr Crispin Blunt Mr Julian Brazier Mr Jamie Cann Mr Harry Cohen Mr Mike Gapes Mr Mike Hancock Mr Jimmy Hood Mr Julian Lewis Laura Moffatt _________ THE RT HON GEOFFREY HOON, a Member of the House, Secretary of State for Defence, MR RICHARD HATFIELD, Policy Director, Ministry of Defence, examined. Chairman 1. Secretary of State, welcome again, so soon after your first appearance. We promise you it will not be a fortnightly event. We would love it to be, but I do not think you would particularly like it. The subject of European Security and Defence Identity is obviously incredibly topical and one that is raising the temperature. What precipitated this specific request was a rather unusual procedural development in the House of Commons. As you know, there are particular reforms in the House of Commons, about once a century, and one of the interesting reforms relates to the European Scrutiny Committee, chaired by our colleague, Jimmy Hood. He, very kindly, requested an opinion from the Defence Committee on a number of documents, including Euro-doc 20699, the Finnish Presidency Progress Report to the Helsinki European Council on Strengthening of the Common European Policy on Security and Defence: First Measures on the Military Instruments of Crisis Management and Guidance for Further Work. This is the first time the European Scrutiny Committee has exercised this relatively new power, under Standing Order 143(11), to request an opinion. As your department is prolifically engaged in subcontracting, my colleague has subcontracted to us, which we do with enthusiasm. So the issue is very important, and subject to a specific momentum which came from Mr Hood's Committee. Is there anything you would like to say by way of introduction? (Mr Hoon) Mr Chairman, I am sorry to get off on a contentious note, but I do have to disagree with you; I would be delighted to be here on as many occasions as the Committee would like to invite me. Mr Hancock: They all say that. Chairman 2. Has that been taken down fully and correctly? (Mr Hoon) Since I am a lawyer, Chairman, I recognise it will be used in evidence against me. (Mr Hatfield) It was not in the brief. (Mr Hoon) Perhaps, for the record, I could introduce Richard Hatfield, our Policy Director. With your permission I would like to set out some very brief opening comments to put into context the evolution of the current arrangements for European defence and what the Government is trying to achieve. In October 1998 the Prime Minister launched a debate on future arrangements for European security and defence. He argued that whilst NATO must remain the cornerstone of our security and defence policy the European Union should be given the capability to decide to act militarily in support of its Common Foreign and Security Policy. Not, I emphasise, for collective defence but for crisis management where the Alliance, as a whole, is not engaged. Let me be quite clear about this: this initiative was not taken for political reasons, it was taken to ensure that Europe could deliver a more effective defence capability. Events in Kosovo have demonstrated the need to begin modernising and strengthening Europe's armed forces, whether for use in NATO or for EU-led operations. It was clear, even before Kosovo, that the European countries simply could not provide the necessary capability to respond to a crisis sufficiently quickly. The initiative built on a good deal of earlier work, both in European institutions and in NATO. Article J4 of the Maastricht Treaty included a commitment to the "eventual framing of a common defence policy", and the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997 set out, in Article 11, (Title V) that the European Union might become involved in so-called Petersburg missions, which are "humanitarian and rescue tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking". In Berlin in 1996 NATO agreed that European nations should be able to undertake crisis management operations under European political control and strategic direction. To allow nations to make use of the investment they had made in NATO assets and capabilities and avoid calls for the development of alternative and duplicate structures, the Alliance agreed to the development of a European Security and Defence Identity. NATO's assets and capabilities - such as planning staffs and command structures - could be made available to the support operations under the WEU's political control. Linking three organisations with different memberships and procedures proved cumbersome. Potentially, the European Union would ask the WEU to undertake an operation in support of its Common Foreign and Security Policy and then the WEU would ask NATO for the assets and capabilities to support the operation. Whatever the obvious limitations of these institutional arrangements, experience in Bosnia and Kosovo highlighted the key European shortfalls in military capability. It was against this background that we advocated establishing within the European Union the necessary structures to support defence decision-making, and the political control and strategic direction of crisis management operations. At the Washington Summit in April 1999 NATO leaders announced that they were ready to develop arrangements to allow the European Union ready access to NATO's assets and capabilities. At Helsinki last November European Union leaders agreed to establish the politico-military bodies needed within the European Union to support competent defence decision- making. That is a Political and Security Committee, a Military Committee and a Military Staff. The GAC agreed this week to establish each of these on an interim basis. Our main focus however, has consistently been on strengthening Europe's military capability, not on constitutional and organisational change. At Helsinki the European Union, therefore, also agreed to a "Headline goal", describing the level of forces Member States should be able to assemble on a case-by-case basis to deploy for a crisis management operation. We are currently discussing how to elaborate this Headline goal into more detailed targets, and, in due course, individual national contributions. This is part of our effort to harness European Union political momentum to improve capabilities. I want to emphasise that this does not envisage the creation of a new force controlled by European Union institutions, but instead improvements in the capabilities, readiness and deployability of national forces. Decisions on the employment of these forces will still be taken by Member States. We are working towards formal agreement to new European Union arrangements by the end of the year and their implementation as soon as possible thereafter. This will be partly dependent on whether EU Treaty amendments are required to give the new structures the necessary powers and obligations. We are still in the process of agreeing much of that detail and there are still some difficult issues to finally resolve, such as the exact participation arrangements for non-EU allies, but the progress we have made is encouraging and has been welcomed across Europe, by NATO, and, indeed, by the United States administration. It will result in arrangements that improve European defence capabilities, for the benefit of NATO, for the benefit of the European Union and for the transatlantic link. Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. 3. Thank you. I think I should first ask Mr Hatfield for an assurance that he has not issued key policy documents in far-away universities that it is impossible for us to access. So you have not been to the Departments of Anthropology in Papua New Guinea and given them a key document? (Mr Hatfield) Not recently, Mr Chairman. 4. Please inform us of your travel arrangements. (Mr Hoon) I suspect the University of Aberdeen might take exception to those remarks. 5. I was going to say "the sticks", Secretary of State, but I declined from being abusive. Even those of the Committee who do not belong to the paranoid wing in relation to Europe were a little upset and bewildered and hostile when, in the far-off days of the Maastricht Treaty, we were told that the Common Foreign and Security Policy included the eventual framing of a Common Defence Policy which might, in time, lead to a common defence. That phrase is frequently used. Do you think, in the light of your own experience, that eventual date is not going to be this side of 2097? Assure the Committee, as far as you can, Secretary of State, from your discussions or negotiations, that we are not likely to be facing, in some Intergovernmental Conference or whatever, a demand for a common defence policy within the next, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years. (Mr Hoon) I cannot foresee that. What I can foresee is the practical steps that we have encouraged within the European Union to ensure that there is effective support for a Common Foreign and Security Policy. It does seem to me, having agreed that (and that is something that is, broadly, agreed by the main political parties in this country), it is right that there should be effective military backing for that policy. So this is a very practical approach that the Government has taken - as I emphasised - not for political reasons but to ensure that the European nations can make a proper contribution to a crisis. 6. And you are convinced that NATO will still be the primary defence organisation in the foreseeable future? (Mr Hoon) Again, I have made that clear, and that is the very clear position of the Government. 7. You think there are enough other governments to ensure that they will support our perception of the importance of NATO? (Mr Hoon) I do not think there is any doubt about that. What is encouraging, I think - and, perhaps, this is something we might discuss in detail in due course - is the way in which there has been a consistent recognition both within the European Union and from broader European allies that there needs to be a common process of responding to crises, and that in the way in which this develops we will not be seeking to find precise constitutional arrangements for each of the different organisations but will recognise that as a crisis evolves it will be necessary for us to approach that in a common way. That is very much the approach that we in the United Kingdom have taken. Equally, it is an approach shared by our European partners in the European Union and, indeed, our European allies. 8. As I said earlier, we are producing a report for our colleagues, who are not all defence specialists. Could you explain to us, really, as simply as is possible, how to differentiate between the numerous acronyms that we and you have to deal with: European Security and Defence Identity; Common European Defence and Security Policy and the Common Foreign and Security Policy? I am sure Mr Hatfield has told some institutions what all this means, but can you clarify for us please - and the nuances between the different organisations? (Mr Hoon) I will do my very best, but I can understand the confusion because not only are these phrases complementary in their proper sense but, equally, they are often used interchangeably and that does cause, I think, some confusion, but I will do my very best to demonstrate that each of them supports the way in which we have approached this in terms of a practical approach to improving European security. ESDI, which is the subject of our hearing today, is, strictly, the European Security and Defence Identity, a NATO initiative, which allows the European nations to make use of NATO assets and capabilities to undertake crisis management operations, set out in the 1996 Berlin agreement between the WEU and NATO, and it is now developed to allow European Union/NATO co-operation under what is known as "Berlin Plus". The European Defence Initiative, but something often referred to - incorrectly, technically - as the ESDI, was actually the Prime Minister's initiative to improve capabilities to provide the European Union with the ability to undertake crisis management operations. That initiative was launched at Portschach, pursued at St Malo and was taken forward at the European Union Council meetings in Cologne and Helsinki, where it was referred to under the title Common European Security and Defence Policy. That is its strict, technical, title. The Common Foreign and Security Policy was established by the Intergovernmental Conference at Amsterdam in 1997 and included the provision that the European Union can avail itself of the WEU to elaborate and implement decisions which have defence implications. I could go on in greater detail to explain the relationships, if that would be of assistance. Chairman: I was just about to ask you that follow-up question. May I ask my colleague, the Chairman of the appropriate Committee, if he thinks his Members will follow the definitional explanation that we have had? Mr Hood: With interest. Chairman 9. If they can you can put them on this Committee. Thank you. The follow-up question, Secretary of State, as you have anticipated, is, really, these definitions. How would you say they relate to NATO and or the European Union? (Mr Hoon) Let me repeat again the fact that each of them are complementary, interlinked and are designed to improve, in a practical way, European security. ESDI is a NATO initiative, technically. It was agreed at Washington and developed to allow co-operation between the European Union and NATO, to allow EU access to NATO assets and capabilities under the Berlin Plus arrangements. I use the word "technically" not in any disparaging sense but it is that ESDI has often been used as an umbrella term to cover all the developments in European defence. However, strictly, it is, I accept, a specific NATO initiative. CESDP - the Common European Security and Defence Policy - is an effort to build a defence capability inside the European Union, nevertheless emphasising close links to NATO, building on, in fact, the Berlin Plus arrangements of the ESDI. The Common Foreign and Security Policy - the third strand - is the policy of the European Union, but this will be supported by the new arrangements for European defence. There is no specific link to NATO but it is accepted that we would generally look to use NATO assets and capabilities to support operations in support of a Common Foreign and Security Policy. So each of them are interlinked, often - confusingly - the terms are used interchangeably, but I think the common theme and what it is important to emphasise is the way in which each will contribute to a more effective European contribution in defence and security terms. 10. Thank you. Can you say where the Defence Capabilities Initiative fits in? (Mr Hoon) Again, a NATO initiative. It is entirely complementary to the efforts that have been made by the European Union through the Helsinki goal to improve our efforts to ensure that European capabilities can be effectively delivered. So, again, they are often used in an interchangeable way, but in a formal sense the DCI is a NATO initiative but it is entirely consistent with the European Union initiative that culminated in the setting of the Helsinki Headline goal. 11. It is amazing how acronyms do excite such controversy. A reporter once described an interview with Dylan Thomas who he asked to define Welsh Nationalism. The reporter said that Thomas replied in three words, two of which were "Welsh Nationalism". I suspect that my colleague here would like to put something preceding those definitions, but you have given the rationalists in our midst reassurances as well as a good description. The last question, if I may, on this section would be, would you assent to the proposition that the ESDI is about rebalancing the capabilities of the North Atlantic Alliance away from war fighting and towards crisis management? Perhaps Europe is better at the latter than the US might be, namely, crisis management. (Mr Hoon) I do not think it is particularly helpful to try and specify the precise circumstances in which we would adopt either NATO capability, NATO assets or, indeed, that there would be a particularly European Union-led approach to any given situation. I think it is much better - and this is certainly the emphasis that we have tried to emphasise - that there should be the ability to respond according to the nature of the particular crisis with which we are dealing - its size, shape and geographical position. Certainly, there has been a general acceptance - which I know this Committee shares - that Europe has not done enough. This is designed to improve the ability of Europe to respond in any of those particular areas, but recognising, in reality, certainly for the foreseeable future, that NATO will be the first organisation that responds to a large scale crisis. Dr Lewis 12. Secretary of State, how real is this distinction that you are drawing between crisis management and general or collective defence? Is it not true that major conflicts - arguably including two World Wars - have resulted in the past from badly managed crises escalating out of control? (Mr Hoon) If I was giving the impression that I was seeking to draw such a distinction then I apologise, because that was not my emphasis. What I am saying is that there needs, in effect, to be a seamless process of responding to a crisis, whether that is through NATO planning procedures, or, indeed, at a political level in the first place in the European Union. My experience is very much along the lines that you describe; that it is impossible to predict precisely whether a particular political crisis, which may only be a distant concern on the horizon, develops into something that would ultimately require a full-scale military response, or whether it is simply resolved by the issuing of a telegram or some stern injunction from the European Union. I do not think it is helpful to draw distinctions because I do not think any of us can predict what kind of political crisis is actually going to require a military response. Chairman: We will be coming back to this later, so we will elaborate on this further. Mr Blunt 13. Can I come back to one of your opening statements, Secretary of State? Having said how much you enjoyed coming before this Committee you then led off with another statement saying that, of course, this whole process of defence integration in Europe was not being done for political reasons. (Mr Hoon) I do not see any inconsistency between those two statements. 14. I think they are entirely consistent, although perhaps not in the credibility which one should attach to them, if I may. (Mr Hoon) That is a matter for you. 15. On 1 July 1998 The Financial Times reported the existence of a briefing from Number 10, I believe, saying "It is crucial for the UK to demonstrate it favoured closer integration in a number of areas, such as foreign and defence policies. This is because Tony Blair has recognised that his ambition of carving a powerful role for the UK within the European Union could taken ten years, and has commissioned a sweeping review of the UK's approach to the EU", and that because of the position over the Euro he then alighted on foreign affairs and defence. I was wondering if I could ask Mr Hatfield what happened in the summer of 1998 in terms of an invitation from Number 10 to bring forward policies of this kind? (Mr Hoon) I am sure Mr Hatfield will respond in due course, but curiously I have been answering the technical questions and you are asking Mr Hatfield a direct political question. 16. I would have put the question to you had you been Secretary of State at the time, but Mr Hatfield was Policy Director at the time. (Mr Hatfield) Mr Blunt, I do not remember the Financial Times' article you referred to and it did not loom very large in my life at the time, is all I can tell you. I would just refer you to the incoming Government - as it was then the Labour Party - manifesto, which made it quite clear there was going to be a review of the Government's approach towards Europe, and it wanted to put itself into "a leading role" - was the phrase in the Manifesto. However, I do not remember any exercise of the type you imply from that article being launched in July 1998 at all. 17. The worry is, obviously, that the exercise had been slightly early, because it was also reporting an exercise that was taking place. Really, what I want to get to is this: the policy did stand on its head, post- Amsterdam, where there were undertakings given by the Prime Minister and, indeed, when he came back to the House of Commons, he drew attention to the success of getting the protocol on NATO put into the Treaty and also reinforcing the position of the Western European Union. Now, policy changed - I think everybody accepts that - during 1998 and I am really just asking you the question what was the genesis of that change of policy? (Mr Hatfield) I disagree the policy turned on its head, but I certainly agree it has changed, in the sense of developing and moving on. I think the easiest way of answering your question is that a major part-impetus for this developing policy came from the Ministry of Defence because the purely practical arrangements that had been developed did not give us a great deal of confidence. You had a system where the EU, as one political organisation, although a very important one, was going to, if it got into crisis management (and that was in Amsterdam, and, indeed, it was envisaged at a point earlier in Maastricht) avail itself of another organisation, the WEU, which had a very limited military infrastructure and capability, which, in turn, would turn to a third organisation, which we all think is a very good organisation - NATO. Essentially, the Ministry of Defence started to think about this, and our view was we ought to try and simplify this pragmatic arrangement and get a proper relationship between the two big players. That played into a wider debate that was going on inside government and that, in brief, led to the start of the process we have got now. However, it does not fit The Financial Times' description, in my view, anyway. 18. That leads me neatly into the new responsibilities of the various players in European defence and security. Secretary of State, would you explain to us how the respective responsibilities of the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson, the High Representative and the Secretary General of the WEU, Mr Solana, Mr Patten, the EU Commissioner for External Relations and the country that has the Presidency of the European Union then join together with regard to the ESDI, the CESDP and the CSFP? (Mr Hoon) We are back to the technical questions. I will do my best. 19. Or perhaps it should be said, what are the areas of potential difficulty or conflict that still need to be ironed out in the relationships between those? What are the areas of overlap? (Mr Hoon) If I set out, first of all, how I see their respective responsibilities, then we can discuss, perhaps, the way in which they might develop their working relationships. Firstly, as you will know, Lord Robertson is the Secretary General of NATO, responsible for the continued development of the ESDI within the Alliance and, indeed, responsible for developing and fostering European Union and NATO links. Harre (?) Solana is the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy and, in addition, of course, is the Secretary General of the Western European Union - something which sometimes is overlooked and it is important to emphasise. He is charged with developing new structures within the European Union, necessary links between the European Union and NATO and, finally, the transitional arrangements from the WEU to the European Union. Thirdly, Chris Patten is the European Commissioner for External Affairs. He may have a role in the non-military aspects of crisis management, but I would emphasise not the military aspects. Specifically, he would not be able to control or commit forces to conduct European Union operations. What is crucial is the way in which the three of them are able to work together - consistent with what I said a few minutes ago - as we deal with an evolving crisis. However, I am confident that the strong personal relationship, in particular, between George Robertson and Harre Solana will deal with a number of those issues which I described that are still to be resolved in the way in which NATO military planning, in particular, interacts with the EU political decision-making. So these are issues, to some extent, which are still to be resolved, but which, I think, will be much more effectively resolved because of the close personal working relationship between these two men. 20. In terms of current crisis management, there are a number of groups, some formal some informal, that have locus on the managing of crises. Take the Contact Group set up over Yugoslavia, which is, in a sense, where the real decisions were taken in managing the whole crisis over Yugoslavia. You then have the NATO Council, which would seem then to move to a more leading position in the conduct of the Kosovo crisis, and this is proposing, now, to set up a Political and Security Committee which would manage military crises. I just wonder, in all this plethora of committees and organisations - formal and informal - that may arise, whether we are going to get some clarity about who is going to be directing operations and where the real political decisions are going to be taken between all these players. The one thing you did not mention, of course, was the Presidency, which, of course, leads the Council of Ministers, which is, presumably, to whom Mr Solana reports. (Mr Hoon) When you talk about "plethora" I suppose the implication is that somehow or other we are creating large numbers of new institutions and new committees and new organisations. In reality, the understanding is that as the WEU reaches the end of its sensible working life, in terms of this aspect of its responsibilities, essentially what will happen is that their committees and organisations will be transferred into the European Union. So the plethora you describe should be a no bigger plethora (if there is such a thing) than exists today. So I would not want to concede, even by implication, that we were somehow responsible for creating large numbers of new committees and organisations. That is simply not our ambition. In many respects, as I indicated at the outset, this ought to simplify the decision- making process. I would have to repeat what I said to you earlier, that having accepted that the European Union should have a Common Foreign and Security Policy, it is logical that there should be military support, military backing for that. In those circumstances, what is important and what we are seeking to achieve are the practical connections between the way in which the European Union deals initially, politically, with an emerging crisis, but recognises that as that crisis develops, unfortunately, there might, from time to time, be the necessity of resorting to force. Therefore, at the same time, and consistently with the way in which the European Union addresses that emerging crisis, we would expect NATO military planners to have in preparation the kind of response they would already have in preparation, but the advantage is that the European Union would have already led the political response in terms of how it would affect Europe. That is something that happens already and has been happening ever since the Common Foreign and Security Policy was prepared. 21. Do you mean, in that last sentence, Mr Patten, the Commissioner responsible for External Relations? (Mr Hoon) What I mean is that there would, as there has been ever since the creation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy, be an essentially political discussion in the first place, within the European Union, as to what should be the appropriate, in the first place, political response of European Union countries. Chris Patten and other Commissioners might well be involved in that, but as you well know, as that crisis evolves, it may begin by no more than a resolution passed by the General Affairs Council; it might mean that that was, in an appropriate situation, escalated to some degree of economic or other sanctions, but, ultimately, if that had failed to resolve the crisis it might well be that the European Union recognise the necessity for a military response. However, what is important is that that is not a sequential process that then goes to NATO. At the beginning of the crisis - the first sign that there was a crisis that could, one day, lead to the need for a military response - we would expect, as happens today, NATO planners to have been preparing the appropriate military response should that unfortunately prove necessary. That is why there would be a seamless exchange of information between the European Union and NATO. It is not something that you would expect to divide into these constituent constitutional elements. It does not work like that today and it would not work like that in the future. (Mr Hatfield) Perhaps I can illustrate this by drawing on two examples which pre-date Amsterdam but post-date Maastricht. During 1996 there were two occasions when the EU discussed crises in Europe, and in varying degrees asked WEU to consider making some contribution. One was the Great Lakes crisis, when the WEU did a bit of co-ordination of air transport. The other was the first Albanian problem where, in the end, it was decided not to, but we had a debate amongst EU Foreign Ministers about the foreign policy problem, and they then passed it over to the WEU where a group of Defence Ministers considered the issue. Essentially, the institutional changes are to say that if you are in that sort of position - and I chose examples where NATO was not involved at all - you would do the whole debate inside the EU as a consistent thing involving defence and foreign policy, as you would nationally. That is the basic institutional trend; you drop out the WEU Council and you merge it into a common machine inside the EU for that sort of crisis. 22. Can I focus on Mr Solana? Who does he report to? (Mr Hoon) He reports both - as I emphasised - to the European Union in his position as the High Representative, but as well to the WEU, for the moment, in his position as Secretary General. 23. Which bit of the European Union? (Mr Hoon) He is responsible, ultimately ---- 24. In his role as High Representative, who does he ---- (Mr Hoon) Ultimately, he is responsible to the Council of Ministers. 25. When you say "ultimately" that rather implies that he is a very independent figure on the Council. 26. I say "ultimately" because, clearly, he will attend, as he is likely to do, for example, the regular meetings of the General Affairs Council. Obviously, he will report and, in a sense, be accountable to them in the way that ministers in the United Kingdom would both report to a Select Committee as well as to the House. There is not any sense in which I am seeking to describe his independence, but he would obviously report, as appropriate, to the body that was dealing with the particular problem that he was addressing. Certainly, however, I would expect - and it would be important because the GAC is the place where these kinds of issues are likely to initially emerge - him to be a regular attender at that body. 27. What is his relationship with the Commission? (Mr Hatfield) He is separate from the Commission. (Mr Hoon) It is hard to describe a relationship. He would, clearly, in an appropriate situation, be required to discuss, for example, with Chris Patten how the EU would deal with, say, humanitarian assistance; how some of the, perhaps, early economic sanctions might be used as part of a response by the European Union to a developing crisis. That might involve him discussing that with a different commissioner. I would expect that the High Representative would be in regular discussion and, therefore, have relationships with a number of different commissioners, both collectively and individually. However, he is not a member of the Commission. 28. If the European Union has this CFSP High Representative, do you think there really is a role for a Commissioner for External Affairs? (Mr Hoon) I set out, and I hope it becomes clear, that in the kinds of different responses that international organisations - specifically, in this context, the European Union - make to an emerging crisis, some of those, as I say, are purely political, some are economic, (where you would expect a number of different commissioners to be involved in both setting out the nature of the economic sanctions as well as policing their effectiveness), but, equally, ultimately, unfortunately, and in the last resort, some might well have to be military. I would expect the High Representative, acting in pursuance of that Common Foreign and Security Policy, to have a relationship and to be discussing with both the relevant commissioner but, equally, obviously, ultimately, if force were necessary, with the Secretary General of NATO. I do not think you can precisely define the way in which that would work, because I do not think that would be helpful. 29. Given that security and defence are now coming within the ambit of the European Union, and it remains, for the moment, a fundamental part of the Government's policy that this must be on an intergovernmental basis - and, therefore, through the Council of Ministers - there is this confusion of having a Commissioner for External Relations who has a role in this. Would it not be better simply to take the Commission out of the whole business of foreign and security policy and have clarity as to how institutions are going to work by having the whole thing handled by a High Representative reporting to the Council? (Mr Hoon) No, because there are lots of responsibilities that the Commissioner for External Relations has that go beyond the specific response to a crisis which you might to be the responsibility of Harre Solana in his position as High Representative. That would include a range of responsibilities. For example, crisis prevention might well be something that you would expect the Commissioner for External Affairs to be responsible for - trying to find ways in which to provide financial assistance to countries as a means of avoiding the potential for civil war or dislocation. So, completely different responsibilities that come together in certain circumstances but which, frankly, are going to be required both of the High Representative and of a Commissioner responsible for External Relations in appropriate circumstances. I do not think there is any confusion between their two roles. Chairman: Thank you. We will move on. We can explain to Mr Blunt our meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, because we asked many of these questions. We have to move on. Mr Blunt 30. Just a final question, which leads from this. Henry Kissinger was famously quoted "If I want to talk to Europe who do I call?" What is the answer? (Mr Hoon) I think that would depend on what he wants to talk about, frankly. I have great respect for Henry Kissinger's assessment, but you might turn the question on its head: if I want to talk to the United States, certainly I would try and call the President but whether I would get through would be a different matter, but, equally, in the complex constitutional arrangements that govern the United States there would be circumstances in which it was clearly necessary to talk to representatives of the administration and there would be other circumstances in which it was necessary to talk to representatives of the legislature. I think that is a proper answer as well to his question about the European Union. The European Union is a complex political structure and it would depend precisely on what he wants to discuss as to who he addresses. Chairman: Anyone knowing the complexities of decision-making in the United States on national security would be equally bemused and unable to supply a simple telephone number. Mr Brazier 31. Just on the subject of the key players and the role of the Commission, you will have probably seen, Secretary of State, that on February 10 the EU Commission President, Romano Prodi, was quoted as saying, in a speech in Latvia: "Any attack or aggression against an EU Member would be an attack or aggression against the whole EU." He is reported as going on to say: "This is the highest guarantee." Two quick questions on that. Firstly, we have heard what you say about Solana, but do you think the EU President should be saying anything on this subject? Secondly, do you have any reassurance for Moscow on this subject, and the apparent extension of Article 5? (Mr Hoon) Clearly, I am not going to seek to restrict the ability of the President of the Commission to express his thoughts, but you have asked me here to express the thoughts of the British Government on these matters and I would emphasise that collective defence remains the responsibility, through Article 5, of NATO. It is a matter for NATO to determine the appropriate response. Therefore, I would not wish to emphasise the role of a collective response in relation to a potential attack on, presumably, a non-NATO member of the European Union. Having said that, I think it is important to be realistic. I cannot imagine that NATO would stand idly by if there was an attack on a non-NATO EU member and simply say "We are not, in any sense, going to respond to this aggression to a country that was in the Western European sphere of influence." There is not a formal, legal treaty basis for that response but it would be precisely the kind of response that I would anticipate being made in the way that we have just discussed, through both the institutions of the European Union and, equally, through the planning processes of NATO. I cannot imagine circumstances in which NATO would not prepare very carefully a military response if a non-NATO EU member were the subject of military aggression. 32. You can see the bearing of this on the possible accession of the Baltic States to the EU, which, so far, Russia has said very little about. You can see how those sorts of comments will be read in Moscow. (Mr Hoon) I can certainly see the importance of what you describe, and I am not, in any way, minimising it, but what I would suggest to you, in the context of looking at the possible accession of the Baltic States, is simply go back ten years and ask yourself that sort of question about, say, Hungary. Ask yourself whether, ten years ago, you would have contemplated Hungary as a NATO member or as an aspirant member of the European Union. Frankly, you would have said "Well, maybe one day in a very, very distant future", but you would not have contemplated the rate of progress that has been made in these ten years. If you had, you are more far-sighted than I am, because I do not think I would have predicted that ten years ago. So, in ten years' time, we may have to look at these issues in a very different context, because the pace of political change is such that I do not think it is right to say "We are not going to be in a position to rule out, for example, membership of the Baltic States". That is not realistic. 33. That is well understood. My final shot to you, though, is that the Russians, so far, have been very relaxed about EU expansion. Is it not rather a shame that we appear to have provided an umbrella arrangement for which Mr Prodi can cause what will be seen in Russia as a lot of problems for what, at the moment, is going ahead quite happily? So far, Russia has treated the EU and NATO has two entirely separate matters, which has been to the benefit of the EU in its accession programme. (Mr Hoon) I am not aware of any formal response from Russia to this speech, and I am not aware of any great difficulty caused by the speech to Russia, but, clearly, that would be a matter for them. We proceed very carefully in managing these changes and developments, in discussion with a number of countries that have an interest. Chairman 34. Mr Hatfield, do you want to put a bureaucratic spin on ---- (Mr Hatfield) I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that in both the Cologne and Helsinki Declarations by the EU, all 15 countries explicitly said that collective defence is not part of this initiative, and that for those who are members of NATO it would continue to be met from NATO. That is a view very strongly held by both the NATO members of the EU and the non-NATO members of the EU. They agree on that entirely. Mr Blunt: Not by the President of the Commission. Chairman: Let us move off this subject. We will come back to it later. Mr Gapes 35. Can I take you to the Finnish Presidency's Report to the Helsinki Council, which, in the first paragraph, the fourth paragraph, and the eighth paragraph, refers to the Petersburg tasks? It talks about " ... the full range of conflict prevention and crisis management tasks defined in the EU Treaty, the Petersburg tasks"; later on it talks about " ... carrying out the full range of Petersburg tasks" and then, at the end, it talks about strengthening capabilities and "Efforts to carry out Petersburg tasks ... ", etc, etc. This phrase has been around since that meeting just outside Berlin a few years ago, but I am unclear as to what you define as the full range of Petersburg tasks, or the spectrum of Petersburg tasks which this European Security and Defence Identity is supposed to be relating to. Could you give us some clarification on that? (Mr Hoon) The definition you have set out. I am not sure I can improve upon humanitarian rescue tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace making. I have to say that that definition was left deliberately open in order to avoid the kinds of artificial constraints which perhaps you are seeking to impose upon it by trying to define too precisely what it would mean. I hope that that is totally consistent with what I have described, because what we are trying to find are practical mechanisms, defence based mechanisms, not rather esoteric, constitutional debates about what might be in and what might be out. 36. I will not give you an esoteric, constitutional question; I will give you a specific question. Was Operation Allied Force, the operation in Kosovo between March and June last year, a Petersberg task? (Mr Hoon) It could have been but I think it is realistic to say that the scale of that operation was such that it is not something which today, given the present level of European capability, European nations could have conducted outside NATO and certainly without United States assistance. That is why I think it is helpful not to try and define too precisely the meaning of that phrase, because it will also depend on the scale of the operation that is necessary. Once we have been through this process and determined that a large scale response is necessary -- and this is one of the reasons for this whole debate -- at the moment Europe is not in a position to deliver that large scale capability. 37. Let us talk about what we are doing today, the KFOR peace keeping operation, Joint Guardian, taking place at this moment since June last year. Is that something which could be today a Petersberg task? (Mr Hoon) Yes, clearly it could be. It fits within that definition but again the scale of it is such that, although Europe has made a much bigger contribution since the troops entered Kosovo than in percentage terms was the case in the course of the actual live operation itself, the reality is still that we are dependent on American assistance and it is not something which today Europe could easily manage on its own. As you know, it is not simply a question of putting a certain number of forces into a place like Kosovo; they have to be sustained there; forces have to be rotated. When we talk about sustaining a force, there is too often the assumption that it is simply the numbers that you require to go in in the first place. You actually need perhaps three or four times that number to ensure that your forces are not simply placed in this context indefinitely. 38. What we are doing now in Kosovo could quite easily be a Petersberg task, from what you have said. What happened initially, because we did not have the capabilities requiring the large American role at that time, at this stage, could not be one. What would have happened if the ground force had been opposed; if there had been the need to go in, in an opposed entry into Kosovo, would that have been a Petersberg task? (Mr Hatfield) I think it is worth putting in a bit of background. Petersberg tasks were dreamed up as a way of making quite clear the type of operation, if you like, in political terms, that Europeans might undertake. The main thing is it is not collective defence. It was not originally and especially not now intended to say that the Europeans will do everything that falls within the definition of a Petersberg task. NATO is doing a Petersberg task in Kosovo today as a technical definition. Ditto in Bosnia. That is the point of a Petersberg task. It is the type of operation the EU might undertake. The point about the full range was to pick up on a point the Chairman raised earlier that there is not, in capability terms, a rigid distinction between blue beret peace keeping and high intensity conflict. A Petersberg task can involve quite intensive conflict and you have to have capabilities capable of undertaking that. The full range of a Petersberg task is so people do not go away with the idea that, if the Europeans go into this, they are only going to take on easy tasks rather than difficult tasks. It was not saying that everything which falls within the definition has to be done by Europeans. 39. Is the question then not that a Petersberg task does not relate to the means used but the end goal? Is that the point? (Mr Hatfield) Yes. That is the basic point. 40. In which case, are we therefore in a position where there will be circumstances in which you are really talking about crisis management? You are not really talking about defence for a Petersberg task, are you? (Mr Hatfield) In the sense of collective defence, you are absolutely right, but the definition of a Petersberg task makes it clear that crisis management might involve real fighting, because there was a danger that people would see it just as a soft touch. In the sense you talk about, you are quite right. That is the distinction between defence and crisis management. 41. In which case, is it not a bit unhelpful that we talk about a European security and defence identity and we talk about a common European defence and security programme or process? When we were in NATO last week, I picked up from several people we spoke to -- I am not at liberty to reveal who -- that this was not about defence at all; it was about security and crisis management. Is it not unhelpful to have this word "defence" in there because it shows confusion and, secondly, perhaps in the signals it sends across the Atlantic to people who then think the Europeans are going to do their own thing and therefore we should withdraw or downplay or change our attitude to what is going on? (Mr Hoon) I think there is probably some intellectual force in what you say. In a very technical way, you properly analysed the problems we had at the outset and we continue to have in the various acronyms that are used to describe these different exercises. It may well be right in terms of a specialist group with considerable knowledge about what is going on to talk about security policy, for example, but in order to get across what we are talking about, which is the use of force, the word "defence" frankly is the word that most people recognise and understand. We are about communicating what we do. I think there is a further, more practical point as well to recognise and it is something again which I would like to emphasise in terms of the kinds of debates that take place comparing different institutional responses. In the end, the reality is you are using the same people. You have limited numbers of people available for all of these operations. It does not matter what sort of acronym is at the top; the reality is you are using the same forces. It is important not to lose sight of that fact because sometimes that is lost in the debate about a European army. What we are talking about are ways in which individual countries collectively make available their armed force for different purposes. In that sense, to try and distinguish quite as precisely as you do between defence and security policy is not always helpful. 42. Given that you have accepted the validity of the logic of what I said, would you say that your fellow European Union defence ministers have the same understanding of it? (Mr Hoon) That would be a difficult question. I could not answer precisely for all 14 of the others but, broadly speaking, the main ones, yes. There is a logic, is there not, about what you describe in relation to does a neutral country have a defence minister. 43. Several that I know do, yes. Finland does. (Mr Hoon) Those are the kinds of issues. We tend to use language, I accept, fairly loosely in this context, but I think there is some intellectual force in what you say. In getting across what we are involved with, particularly the use of force, "defence" is still a word that is broadly recognised as covering that sort of area. Mr Hancock 44. I thought, when you were speaking about Petersberg tasks, that they would be interpreted as and when and by whom to suit the purpose. If you were slapping people around, it would be a Petersberg task; if it was a peace keeping exercise, it would be interpreted accordingly. The suggestion from ESDI is that we are going to have this rapid deployment force. Considering NATO were hard pressed to get 40,000 men ready during the course of a two and a half month aerial war and still were not able to get them on the ground if possibly the air war had gone on for another two and a half or three weeks and they would have had to be engaged on the ground, how on earth is it realistic to live up to the headline goal behind all of this, of having 50,000 troops deployed within 60 days, sustainable for a year? (Mr Hoon) That is the precise point of all of this. Because of the criticism that you rightly made of our inability to deploy effectively, whether that had a NATO hat or a European Union hat or whether it was the collective response of a group of sovereign individual nations. The reality was that the European nations were not able to get forces into the field sufficiently quickly to sustain them there as much as we would have liked. That is why we have worked both through NATO and the European Union to improve that capability and why the Helsinki headline goal is something that we have concentrated on as a practical response to precisely the difficulty that you describe. To go on from that and to suggest that this is somehow unrealistic by the year 2003 I cannot agree with. I will give you one simple reason. I am afraid I was not able to get more up to date figures. In 1997-1998, 15 States of the European Union had very nearly two million people in their armed forces, in uniform and available to those 15 Member States. 45. They could not get 40,000 (Mr Hoon) We were, as you say ---- 46. They could not get 40,000. (Mr Hoon) Exactly, but it seems to me that is precisely why it is important that we emphasise our efforts to make sure that we can achieve what is, in my view, a very modest goal set out at Helsinki and, frankly, a very relaxed timetable to make those forces available. If we pay for across the European Union nearly two million members of the armed forces, I accept that it is a very considerable criticism of our capability that we could not get enough people into theatre quickly in Kosovo. That is why we are doing something about it and that is why I emphasise the practical, military aspect of this rather than the esoteric debate about institutions and constitutions that too often we get embroiled in. 47. To get those 50,000 men and women, you would need probably 200,000 trained personnel over that period, to sustain it for a year. (Mr Hoon) A year is perhaps an exaggeration. A six monthly tour of duty ought to imply maybe double that number, but I am not going to quibble because I recognise and emphasise the importance of sustainability in terms of the rotation of forces. 48. I would imagine 40,000 men in Kosovo might have been engaged in a little more than a week long battle if they were going to push on into Serbia. Realistically, the headline goal said -- not my words, not yours, but from the people pushing for ESDI -- 50,000 men for a year. The NATO countries between them collectively could not provide 1,500 policemen to take the pressure off KFOR in Kosovo despite the special plea from the Secretary General. How on earth, out of those two million people, 40,000 of them sitting on Northern Cyprus looking out over the Mediterranean and another 300,000 looking across the Aegean, but most of them with rifles which could not shoot for much more than a few hundred yards, let alone do anything effective -- if you take out of that two million those who are conscripts and badly trained and ill equipped, where on earth are you going to come up in three years' time, knowing how much it would cost to get 200,000 people ready and willing? Some NATO countries ask for volunteers. Norway, if they go on an operation, send out a volunteer shift. They cannot order their men to serve overseas because they are all conscripts. (Mr Hoon) I am sorry if I appear pedantic in response to your question but I think it is necessary to analyse what was the problem. The problem was rapid deployability. There is not actually the same degree of problem, say, after a year, of having the time to plan at the end of a year to get forces into theatre. Indeed, events in Kosovo have demonstrated that actually we have been able to sustain the initial forces by a broader group of countries who, after a period of time has elapsed, are able to get forces into theatre. I know it sounds a little pedantic and I broadly agree with your emphasis in terms of ensuring that there is sustainability and that there are forces available to rotate. As Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom, one of my concerns has been that we have been effective in getting our forces into theatre quickly but sometimes we have not always had other forces available to rotate to allow our forces the opportunity of getting out of theatre sufficiently quickly. That is something that I have sought to emphasise in the short time that I have had this responsibility. I think it is important to understand the problem before we criticise too harshly the solution. The problem is that rapid deployment capability and that is what Helsinki is about. After a year, we ought to be able to find more forces than would be available from the 50,000 or 60,000 to be able to rotate into that situation. It will clearly depend on the nature of the situation at the end of the year. If we are still involved in war fighting, I accept that the problem will be more difficult but if we are involved in the kind of operation that we are engaged in at the moment in Kosovo it has proved easier. We have had a number of countries volunteering to provide assistance and that has been very welcome. I do not think the problem is necessarily a problem of finding the rotation for the indefinite future. The essence of the difficulty that we are seeking to address is this question of rapid deployability. How do you respond quickly to a crisis when you need to? 49. I sat at a meeting of the NATO Council ambassadors on Monday with the WEU members. It was interesting there that many of them would volunteer instantly people to fill slots in this force, but the reality of that is that most of them would also be honest enough to say that they were less than capable of matching what was coming probably from the United Kingdom, France, west Germany and maybe Holland. There would be lots of deficiencies. How on earth is there going to be a proper check that the reality of the situation would be that some of these people would be less than qualified for the role they were going to do? Who would accept that responsibility? How on earth would they be integrated into the system when you consider that some aspirant countries into NATO could barely produce a company, let alone a battalion of people, who would be able to qualify for this rapid deployment force? (Mr Hoon) With the greatest respect, I think you are trying to be prescriptive in the sense that what you are trying to do is to say that in all circumstances, for example, every single country would provide a war fighting, rapidly deployable company, for the want of a better example. The reality is that this is exactly the process we have to go through. It is necessary to judge what kind of forces we need in order to resolve the particular situation that we face. You mentioned police. One of the problems the United Kingdom has had in providing police forces into Kosovo is that we do not arm our police officers, with some exceptions, and those exceptions have made a tremendous contribution, but we do not routinely have officers trained in the use of fire arms. One advantage might well be in some of the countries that you are by implication referring to is that they have militia organisations, which might be the perfect sort of organisation to go into a situation like Kosovo where they are effectively dividing ethnic groups who are anxious to attack each other. You have to look at the circumstances and look at the range of capability that is available and then decide accordingly what kind of forces you will make available. That really is what we are driving at here. One of the clear deficiencies is that initial war fighting capability of rapidly deploying effective forces into a particular theatre. I accept the description of the countries that you have given, particularly the United Kingdom. We are extremely good at that. I would like us to be still better, but it is something that we do very well. In trying to work out what would be an appropriate European or NATO response, because the issue arises just as clearly in both the EU context as it does in NATO, what other forces do we require to sustain that initial war fighting capability. They may take a variety of different forms, including the kind of militia organisation that might really be very useful in Kosovo as of today. 50. You have fallen into the same trap as myself and others have done when we have spoken in the same terms to our European colleagues. The suggestion that they come across is that there will be two tiers. One will supply the technology and the knowhow; the other will supply the foot soldiers who will take the bullets and fight the war. That was what the Secretary General of NATO and the NATO Council were trying to avoid, the them and us, the two tier NATO system. (Mr Hoon) I am not accepting that description for one moment. Different countries will have different capabilities that they can make available. One of the most impressive things that I have seen in the time that I have been Secretary of State -- and I have seen a number of impressive things -- is a combined force that exists between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, a combined commando force, where they train together, where they have very common equipment to use, where they work very effectively as a joint organisation. That kind of cooperation between a larger country and a smaller one is a tremendous example of the kind of cooperation that we need to develop in fulfilling the headline goal. I do not accept for a moment that there are some countries that will do the war fighting and others that will not. What we need to develop -- and this is work that is going ahead -- is a recognition that we are all capable of working cooperatively together and fulfilling the headline goal and finding the different ways of achieving it. 51. How on earth would this organisation be trained? How on earth will it be financed with so many of the European NATO partners reducing expenditure on defence and many of the others scared stiff of the thought of having to spend more? Is the 50,000 a commitment or a target? (Mr Hoon) Again, I am being pedantic and I apologise. The use of the word "organisation" gets you off on completely the wrong basis because what we are doing is planning. What we are essentially saying is do we have the capability if it is necessary. To call it an organisation in that sense is to lead you along an inappropriate track. Your first point about training is, I am afraid, where you start going wrong, because ---- 52. Does the Eurocorps have to be brought together? (Mr Hoon) Let us not get into Eurocorps at the moment. There may be questions about that in due course. What we are talking about is the ability of the European nations, should it be necessary, to put this kind of force into the field. I am not saying that they will wait there on some island off western Europe in order to be ready. Each country would identify its contribution and that is work that is underway. That means that the training point does not really arise because they will still be training in precisely the way they are trained, broadly speaking, within each country although, as I emphasise in my illustration of cooperation between Britain and the Netherlands, I see tremendous potential there for more combined operations and for ensuring that some of the very high standards, for example, that the United Kingdom has in this kind of area are passed on and communicated around. That is the problem with setting off with the word "organisation", which leads you into training. Training will continue in precisely the way that it is at the present time. Similarly as far as financing is concerned. We are not financing this collectively. What we are saying is that each country will make an appropriate contribution in order to deliver that headline goal. It is a goal and that is the answer to the third point. It is a target; it is something we are for the moment aspiring to, but I would want to repeat what I said earlier: I do not see any particular difficulty about achieving this by the year 2003 because of the sheer number of forces that are presently available. It ought to be something which European countries which are capable of putting two million people into uniform ought to be able to satisfy and deliver. Chairman 53. You have expressed a very charitable view. Your European colleagues will be very supportive. I think it will be a hell of a task to equip, to train, to arm and to move. I think it will be very difficult. However, the only consolation, as far as I can see from our visit to NATO and the EU last week, was that they said this will be a test of the European Union. If the European Union cannot coerce -- they did not say coerce; induce -- its members to live up to what they have signed up for, then the European Union will be considerably damaged. I think the task will be enormous. The Germans, for instance, are undergoing a defence review. I do not know if they have the resources or the will to change their conscript system. I would be delighted if they are able to and running through all the members of the alliance the idea of continuing to train in the same way as they have done in the past is a recipe for a response in the future as we have had in the past. Will the forces earmarked for the SDR be available for NATO crisis management operations or would they be considered to be always additional to forces earmarked for NATO, except in an Article 5 emergency? (Mr Hoon) What I have emphasised is that we are dealing here with the same group of armed forces available right across the European Union and across NATO. It will clearly depend upon the precise institutional decision making process as to how and where they are deployed, but we are talking about the same forces. Clearly, yes, they could be available for other operations depending on the circumstances at the time. I cannot exactly forecast when and how we would be required to make these deployments. One of the challenges that the United Kingdom has faced in recent years is both maintaining our presence in Bosnia as well as deploying in a very similar manner for a very similar crisis into Kosovo. I do not want to say that these forces are going to be separated off because that clearly is not the case. The reality is that this is a planning process, the kind of planning process that NATO engages on already and which we think would make a useful contribution towards the ability of the European nations, through the European Union, to be able to develop. Mr Hancock 54. Will the achievement of the headline goal be the end of the process or can we expect more forces to be earmarked for the ESDI and the CEDSP in the future? In general terms, what do you both consider, on the political and policy side of military capacities, to be appropriate to meet the full range of this unit's possible tasks? (Mr Hoon) I hope it is not the end of the story. I hope that, having achieved the headline goal, European nations will recognise that they could do still more and that this is a good test of their ability to satisfy the kind of requirements that we are likely to face in the modern world and this will be a lever in some cases -- we have been through this process with the Strategic Defence Review, as the Chairman has indicated; other countries are going through a similar process at the present time -- to change the way in which we address the deployment, largely speaking, of our forces. We are moving away from putting large numbers of infantrymen into the German field to confront the Soviet Union. Too many European nations are still organised largely along those lines. It has been a difficult process for us to readjust over the years to a different kind of capability. I hope that the headline goal is both underlining the need for change and also perhaps spurring certain countries into action in that respect, but I do not think it is the end of the process. I accept that in 2003 we may have to look again. There may be a different kind of capability that emerges at that stage, but certainly I am confident that, in terms of the assessment that we as a country have made -- and clearly similar assessments are made at NATO level -- it is this kind of capability that is desperately needed and, for the foreseeable future, will continue to be needed. (Mr Hatfield) I think there is still a fundamental misunderstanding because you used the word "unit" in your question. This is not a unit; this is a pool of forces, most of which, certainly for the ten countries which are also members of NATO, are forces which would be available for NATO and are already in principle available for NATO. They will be trained to NATO standards, certainly for the countries who are members of NATO. That is part of the answer to your original question. I suspect a bigger part of the answer to your question, when we have done it, will be connecting the development of the headline goal -- and the next step is to define it in a bit more detail and break it down -- to the NATO force planning system at least for NATO countries but probably for all of them because we do not want inconsistencies. We do not want duplication of bureaucracies. NATO has a very good force planning system. Probably, a way of taking this forward would be to do something like, once we have defined the headline goal in a bit more detail, a NATO force generation conference which gets all the countries together to work out how a force can be produced. You might have something like that on a generic basis. We want to pool 15 combat brigades. We want X hospitals and Y logistics. What are you going to offer and, by the way, can you make the 60 days criterion. Then we have to put it together like that. Part of the answer to the question is also contained in your original question. You talked about the number of conscripts and how difficult it is to deploy. You used the Norwegian example. I suspect some countries will have to adapt their force structure. They may not have to change its size but maybe they will have to produce a deployable unit made up of professionals and separate that out as part of a contribution to this as a rapid deployment contribution and continue with the bulk of their forces in another way. There are many different possible answers to this question. The British and French have already addressed it in their own defence reviews. The Germans have a major defence review going on now and I think lots of other countries are looking at the problems raised. Things will have to change but it does not necessarily mean huge amounts of extra expenditure because the scale of the goal is small in relation to the total size of European capability. What we want is a relatively small but high quality and usable capability. Mr Cann 55. We appear to be asking each of the individual nations to allocate a certain amount of combat troops that are available and support services to be available at any time, which is all well and good, although we have difficulty doing it ourselves to an extent and we are the best organiser of the lot, as everybody in this room would accept. It seems to me we are tackling the problem from the wrong way up. If we can only get the bureaucracies of all the 16 nations reduced, if we could only get cooperation in medical services and support services of every type organised under one heading and keep our own fighting forces, and get rid of the conscript system -- what point is there in having conscripts you cannot use anywhere, for instance? It is a nonsense. It must be unemployment statistics that are involved here -- and if only we could reduce the amount of money we spend unnecessarily, we could all provide the combat forces that are required, probably more than are being asked for under this scheme. (Mr Hoon) I might not agree with every aspect of what you say but I agree with the general thrust of your observations. Firstly, I have said already that I do not believe Helsinki and the achievement of the Helsinki goal is the end of this process. We will be looking at other ways in which we can work more effectively together and in cooperation. That is a wholly good thing and maybe some of the examples you give are areas where we might more effectively look at providing a common organisation to respond in particular circumstances. I do recognise that there is a need to do more and I think we can take that process further. 56. The point seems to be that we are asking everybody to put another few per cent on top of their defence expenditure, when most of them would not be willing to do it. You said yourself it was an aspiration. (Mr Hoon) It is a target. 57. No; you used "aspiration". You qualified "target" with "aspiration". Your words will be well chosen. It is an aspiration, is it not? (Mr Hoon) Today it is an aspiration. In 2003, we hope it will be an achievement. We have not got it as of today so I accept the word "aspiration", but perhaps I am reverting to my previous profession and quibbling over words. What I think is absolutely important is that there is this commitment by the EU states to satisfy the obligation. Whether they satisfy it by spending more money on defence and providing a new capability or whether they simply spend the existing money that they spend in a different way is a matter for them, as is conscription and other questions. What they have signed up to is delivering this target by 2003. How they need to go about that really is a matter for them. All defence ministers face spending pressures. My judgment would be that they would be better off making sure that their existing spend was spent in a way that allowed for the delivery of their contribution to the capability. Ultimately, it is a matter for them and how they deliver. They have signed up to it and we would expect them to deliver. Chairman: If the Prime Minister wants to lead Europe, maybe reversing the decline in defence expenditure might be a useful way in which it could be done. Mr Brazier 58. The headline goal also requires true commitment to be backed up by appropriate air and naval assets, by logistics, intelligence command and control and so on. Have targets for this elements of the force generation also been set? If they have not, when are they likely to be set? (Mr Hoon) Those are the kinds of practical details we are working on. I am not ducking the question. We set the goal. The means by which you achieve getting that force into a theatre is something that we are working on now. How each element is generated, which countries make the appropriate contribution, is something that we will work through in the course of meetings that are now underway. A good deal of effort is being made in that direction already. 59. I must confess I listened to some of your answers to Mr Hancock and the Chairman just now with some disbelief. You said, if I heard you right, Secretary of State, that this is not an organisation we are talking about. A military force that goes into what could turn into real fighting that is not an organisation would not appear likely to prosper. Can you tell us in a little more detail? Do you know of any example? What is the possible scenario in which you can see a collection of ad hoc forces brought together from different countries who have not exercised, trained and worked together ever succeeding anywhere in real fighting? (Mr Hoon) The Second World War. It is quite a good example. 60. We are talking here about forces which, at a relatively low level -- brigade level, Mr Hatfield suggested, but possibly even at lower than brigade level in some of the scenarios -- are being pulled together at short notice having never exercised together before. (Mr Hatfield) You are drawing an unfair and untrue distinction. This is a pool of forces. We have used brigades as the main component, if you like, in describing it in public but there would be lots of other things. They will train together. In NATO for a start there is an exercise going on starting tomorrow I think, the WEU and NATO exercise in the crisis management arrangements to pull this together. It is not dissimilar from the ARRC. The ARRC is not a standing force although it has units declared to it. You pull them together for an operation as required. The same is true of Eurocorps. Of course people will train together but it is not a standing force. There is no permanent organisation but it is not just a collection of ad hoc units on a list and, by the way, will they turn up on the day. We are trying to create the embryonic capability to pull them together for a particular operation. 61. Neither the ARRC nor Eurocorps has had to do real fighting and even in Kosovo, where there was no real fighting, you will be aware that in the Lessons Learned document, one of the items most widely leaked was the fact that brigade commanders were unhappy with the fact that there was no proper, fixed structure in Kosovo between their brigade level of command and the overall command. That was under situations where they did not actually have to fight. (Mr Hoon) You should recognise the distinction here. Whilst they went into Kosovo, they did not have to fight. The planning was not on the basis that they would have to fight. Had they gone into Kosovo having to face a live situation, the planning would have been different; the structures would have been different. You are not comparing like with like in the observations you make. You cannot possibly sustain an argument that says, "We are going to organise ourselves to go in quickly" remember, to relieve an acute humanitarian crisis inside Kosovo, "on the same basis that we go in if we are going to face military opposition." You know that much better than I do. I do not think you should confuse the two approaches. 62. There is no serious commentator who would not believe that having to fight a real war is a much more complicated and difficult operation than peace keeping. To try to do so with an ad hoc pool, in Mr Hatfield's words, of brigades without a properly tried and tested structure in between is ---- (Mr Hoon) Again, I find this slightly absurd, if you will forgive me for being so blunt. The reality of modern military organisation is that we are always going to be working in cooperation with other countries. We are always going to be finding ways in which we build that kind of common capability. That is a reality of modern defence security planning. That is why we train so often to try and deal with these kinds of arrangements. Even in the short time that I have been Secretary of State for Defence, I have visited exercises where precisely what we are trying to establish is the way in which different forces from different nationalities do work together because that is the kind of world we live in. (Mr Hatfield) You are missing something else as well. When this force is deployed with its one or three brigades or whatever, of course there will be a command structure. One of the points of agreeing the Berlin Plus arrangements at Washington was one of the most likely things that we would turn to for a serious operation, where NATO was not engaged, is perhaps to borrow a NATO command asset like a CJGF when they are up and running to run the operation. The whole point about the arrangements we discussed at Berlin, reflected in Cologne and Helsinki is that for that part of the operation you might well turn to the best military alliance there is in the world for the technical help. The headline goal is literally a goal about military capabilities. It is not about a force. Most of those capabilities could be used and may well be used by NATO, including the non-NATO nations, and are already around under KFOR. It is a capability pool; it is not a standing force. There is a debate about how you use them and that links up with Berlin Plus and Washington. Those questions are being addressed but it is not fair to address the headline goal, which is a capability goal, any more than saying to NATO's DCI initiative, "How do you use these 58 capabilities in action?". There are questions about that. They are separate questions. 63. We cannot dwell on this but I am damned glad I am never going to be called out in uniform to work in a structure without properly tested intermediate command structures. (Mr Hoon) I cannot let that pass. You will have been trained in the time that you were in the armed forces in exactly the way that our present armed forces receive proper and effective training in precisely this sort of area, to make sure that when they do have this kind of difficulty they are able to work out what the problems are. Clearly there are going to be communication problems and organisation problems but that is precisely why we engaged in these kinds of planning exercises, where we have live training exercises, in order to make sure these kinds of problems are overcome. I cannot allow this kind of observation to be made. If you need to see it in action, I can arrange for you to visit one of these exercises where you can see the kind of efforts made to cooperate and coordinate our efforts. I would be delighted to organise that for you. Chairman 64. In the light of cancelled exercises, we would be delighted to come along. Sorry for that cheap shot. (Mr Hoon) I am very surprised that you indulged in that. Mr Brazier 65. Do the capabilities envisaged by the DCI and the WEU contradict one another in any way or represent a different view of the priorities for action? If there are differences, how will the two initiatives be taken forward and coordinated, DCI and WEU? (Mr Hatfield) No, they do not contradict each other at all. Indeed, the WEU audit was one of the helpful things in identifying in some senses the fairly obvious weaknesses in European military capability and led to an influence on the shape of the headline goal. The headline goal is a slightly different type of goal to the DCI. The DCI is a list of individual capabilities whereas the headline goal is linked to putting units on the ground. There is a strong connection. Many of the same things will appear in both. Not all, because I think there are some things that NATO will be asking the DCI which go beyond what is required to meet the EU upper aspiration. It would be for NATO only. I do not see any contradiction at all. 66. The reservations by the Americans who provide 80 to 90 per cent of the intelligence on letting the hard material out of their hands are not going to make any difference at all to a European led operation? (Mr Hatfield) No. I do not think the Americans will have any greater difficulty in releasing information to members of the EU than they do to all the other members of NATO. They will of course protect purely national things in the way they do in both organisations now. The Americans, and the Pentagon in particular, welcome the headline goal as what they would regard is an aspiration, but they hope it is achieved, to improve European capability. That is the bottom line as far as they are concerned. Mr Hood 67. I will try not to be so provocative. I want to look at how future operations will have recourse to NATO assets. Your progress report says, "The European Union should have the autonomous capacity to take decisions and, where NATO as a whole is not engaged, to launch and then to conduct EU-led military operations in response to international crises in support of the CFSP." Can you confirm that NATO will remain the instrument of first resort for all future crisis management operations? (Mr Hoon) Yes, I can and I set that out very clearly in my opening statement. It is an absolute article of faith of this government. (Mr Hatfield) Within Europe or within the European security context? Clearly NATO is not a worldwide organisation. 68. Within European security. Can you envisage the kind of circumstances in which the US would not wish to be engaged in the management of a crisis, but where they would be happy to allow the EU to use NATO assets? What kind of assets are we talking about? Would they include, for example, SHAPE's planning capabilities? (Mr Hoon) The answer at the moment is dependent perhaps on the scale and the geographical location of the operation, something that we have spent some time thinking about and trying to work out a proper answer to. It is inevitably speculative at the moment because it depends on the particular circumstances that arise. I do not want to be too prescriptive but if I say that for most large scale operations we would expect that NATO would be fully engaged involving the United States, perhaps there might be medium sized operations that would be peculiarly the responsibility of Europe, where in effect, providing we had the improvements that we have described in terms of satisfying the headline goal and other force generation improvements inside Europe, there might well be circumstances where essentially the coalition of the willing would consist of European nations, perhaps with recourse to certain NATO assets that would assist in the operation; but equally perhaps for the moment -- I think we have to be realistic about it -- at the smallest scale of operations there could be circumstances in which this could be dealt with through the European Union. All this follows on from the discussion we have had about capability because until that capability is improved we would have to recognise that the circumstances in which EU nations would be able to act together would be relatively limited. They would be limited to rather modest operations within Europe. 69. Can you envisage any circumstances in which the European Union would become engaged in a crisis management operation to which the US was so opposed that it vetoed the use of NATO assets? (Mr Hoon) No, I cannot, because I cannot see how that situation would arise since, consistent with what I have been saying all the way through, there would be a consistency of approach between the European Union planning processes and the NATO processes involving the United States. You know as well as I do as well that in emerging crises there are also a series of bilateral discussions. We do not all wait for a congregation of ministers either at the NATO or EU level to start working out our response. There will be clear exchanges between administrations and in the framing of the response I would expect to see NATO, the European Union, individual governments all working and closely cooperating. To determine what would be the appropriate way of organising the military response, I would expect to emerge for the moment, as I said earlier, in terms of the scale of the crisis rather than any particular kind of political problem. At the moment, as Members of the Committee have indicated very clearly, the capability of the European Union to respond is limited. 70. You do not envisage the possibility of, say, Turkey using a veto on the use of NATO assets by the European Union if they chose to? (Mr Hoon) It would be the responsibility of individual states to determine in the first place the level of response, whether they were willing for their own forces to be involved in this action. That might affect the way in which the handling of the crisis developed. These operations are cooperative operations and we would want there to be the widest possible basis for an agreement before these decisions were taken. Chairman 71. The best place for coordinating a coalition of the willing would be SHAPE, but would this be out of bounds? If it was -- I am not saying it is -- out of bounds, would we have a capability? We have a couple of redundant military headquarters. Would we have the capability of providing almost a replication of what NATO could do if there was a veto on using SHAPE for a coalition of the willing operation? Would we have the range of buildings, equipment and personnel? (Mr Hoon) That is precisely why we want to develop -- I said at the outset that this is still work that is underway -- a kind of transparency in the planning processes between the European Union and NATO and its assets. I recognise that certainly for today the real expertise is available in places like SHAPE. It is not available elsewhere and we need to call on that expertise to assist us in the response that we can make to any particular crisis. I cannot see for the moment how you could exclude that planning process; nor would we want to. Dr Lewis: I would like to develop two points, one to do with deterring aggression and the other to do with what was touched on right at the beginning, escalation from managing a crisis into a general war. On deterrence of aggression, I was glad that you referred to the Second World War, though I do not think many military historians with the example of the disasters that beset all the allies at the outside spoke very well of what happens when uncoordinated fighters have to work together. Chairman: And cuts in defence expenditure in the 1930s, I might add. Dr Lewis 72. I entirely endorse that contribution from the Chairman for which both parties were gravely responsible in the 1930s. Indeed, there was some very irresponsible pressure for disarmament. Coming back to deterrence of aggression, one thing most military historians would agree on would have been that the First World War and the Second World War would have been less likely had it been known to the aggressors in each case that America would have been involved from the outset. Would you not concede that that was why, at the end of both the First and the Second World War, attempts were made to erect security structures which would guarantee that America would be involved from the outset? Those attempts failed at the end of the First World War, as we know with the League of Nations, but they succeeded with NATO at the end of the Second World War. My concern here is that these proposed arrangements are going to turn the clock back by encouraging an aggressor in certain circumstances to think that the Americans might not be involved militarily at the outset if this was one of those scenarios that we have been pressing you on, where the Europeans were perhaps involved in fighting but the Americans were not. Do you accept that there is a danger in that sort of train of reasoning, if it is true? (Mr Hoon) I do not. I am sure the Chairman would not want us to be engaged in an historic debate but I do not accept the premise of what you say about the origins of the First World War and the potential deterrence of the US being involved. I do not think that that would necessarily have deterred the combatant. Equally, I am not sure that it would have deterred Nazi Germany from invading Czechoslovakia or Poland had they known that the Americans would come in later in the way. That may be my historic quibbling over your judgment. What I do accept, however, is your conclusion because I do recognise that that was essential to the judgments that were made at the time of the foundation of NATO. Nothing has changed. I emphasise and I repeat that we would expect collective defence to be conducted through NATO and therefore, in terms of deterrence, what we are developing does not affect the deterrent effect of NATO and the engagement of the United States in that Treaty commitment which they and other signatory states enter into. 73. Let me move to the question of escalation. I was delighted that, with my first question to you, you so readily agreed that what starts off as an exercise in crisis management can easily escalate into all out war. Applying that to what has been said about the proposed crisis management role of the EU, let me put it to you that there are three logical possibilities. There may be more but I cannot think of them. The first is that the crisis arises and NATO gets, as has been made very clear by you today and was made clear to us when we visited NATO last week, first refusal or shall we say the Americans decide that they wish to be involved. The second possibility is that the crisis arises and the Americans are generally supportive of the EU taking military action but they do not wish to take military action themselves. The third logical possibility is that a crisis arises possibly like the Suez crisis -- but I accept that we do not want to get too drawn into that; I just use that to show that that sort of thing could conceivably happen -- where the Europeans want to get involved and the Americans are either indifferent or actively opposed. You have said, with regard to the third category, that such is the integration and cooperation that you regard that sort of danger as fairly minimal. I accept there is some strength in that but I want to focus on the second category, the category where the Europeans might be fighting but the Americans do not wish to get involved militarily. Does this not take us right back to the scenario that I spoke about a few moments ago, whether you wish to apply it to World War One or Two or not? At the outset of a conflict, someone who might be deterred if they knew that the most powerful democracy would be involved from the beginning will calculate that, because the Americans do not wish to be involved, they can take that aggressive step and then if, as the crisis expands and escalates, the Americans actually do get involved the aggressor finds out that he has made a mistake but it is too late. This is the recreation of NATO without the Americans or Hamlet without the Prince that some of us are very fearful of. Can you reassure us? >
Transfer interrupted!neat and tidy description of the way in which a crisis could potentially develop. I accept that others have sought to do the same but, with great respect, I think that is fundamentally misconceived because crises are not neat and tidy. 74. That is my point. (Mr Hoon) They develop in a variety of different ways. I do not think you can precisely describe how the international community responds. Some concerns, as I indicated earlier, on the horizon of our anxieties may well be resolved themselves and nothing further occurs. The parties withdraw; peace is made and there is not any resort to force. Sometimes people might be intimidated by a resolution of the General Affairs Committee of the European Union. I suspect that that is not usually crucial but it is not something that stands on its own. Normally, the GAC would pass a resolution, say, condemning some violence or activity in another part of the world at the same time as other members of the international community including, for example, the United States might also make observations. I do not think you can see these things in these neat and tidy boxes of how we would respond because the reality is, as that crisis develops, as I indicated earlier, the escalation normally in the international community is to go from a political response, a passing of a resolution, the sending of a strong letter or warning to something a little more specific like, for example, economic sanctions, an economic blockade, degrees of escalating the response of the international community, but never, in my experience taken specifically and solely by the European Union as such; but usually involving an effort by the international community to respond in a consistent way. Equally, sometimes, that does lead to the need for force. Again, what I am describing to you is not simply a decision either by NATO or by the European Union to resort to force. The international community, through the various institutions available to it, would then reach a conclusion that force was required. 75. With respect, you are exactly reversing the situation. I am the one who is saying that crises develop out of control and cannot be dealt with so predictably in a graduated response, as you seem to think these institutions would be able to supply. What I am saying is that here we have a situation where an aggressor could calculate -- or should I say miscalculate -- because of non-involvement of the Americans at the outset that it was safe to embark on an adventure that he would not have embarked upon had he known they would have been involved. After all, that is the whole basis of Article 5 of NATO. That is why we think it is so good. The danger is that, as the crisis spiralled out of control unpredictably, the Americans might well be forced to come in; whereas if it had been known they would come in from the beginning the crisis would not have developed in the first place. That is the danger of what is being proposed. (Mr Hoon) With great respect, you are putting the same question you asked me a few moments ago in a different way. Article 5 remains; NATO remains; the collective defence guarantee remains, so the deterrent effect is exactly the same. 76. Not for that central category where the Americans are not getting involved ---- (Mr Hoon) What I described to you, in terms of the emerging crisis, I accept. I am not being prescriptive. I am not saying this always happen. I am not saying the international community always goes from one stage to the next. I accept that some crises might go very quickly towards a situation where the use of force was necessary. Generally speaking, even where force has been used in the past, it has usually followed some degree of political response, some indication that force will have to be used unless action is taken to remove the necessity. I do not think it is right to confuse those two separate processes with the collective guarantee that remains through Article 5 and the US has been firmly involved in that and remains firmly involved in that. Laura Moffatt 77. Much of what I was going to ask has been explored in depth ad nauseam so I am going to move on to slightly different ground, if you do not mind. I am a supporter of ESDI without question. It seems to me that the very reason that much of the comments about world wars, why was it such a mess to begin with, is the very reason why we are responding in this way, getting ourselves organised in Europe, understanding what each others' capabilities are, pooling that capability and using it to best effect. There is just one slight worry for me. It is something that I often get into trouble with personally. I seem to agree something on a particular issue but I may not have grasped properly what the other party feel they are getting out of what I have agreed. There might be some slight changes in what other countries may think ESDI means. I wonder if you could spend a few minutes saying a little bit about three nations in particular, about what you think they think it means to them. (Mr Hoon) I will try. 78. I understand that we are at an early stage. We are obviously into exploring all of these things, are we not, we are not trying to be over- prescriptive at this stage. Let us talk about France, Germany and the USA. In each case, what do you think they believe that they are going to get out of it? (Mr Hoon) First of all, I emphasised at the outset that what we were seeking to do in improving European capability was to be essentially practical, to strengthen our ability to respond in a particular way to a developing crisis. France and Germany have signed up for that as part of the headline goal. I cannot see any reason for going behind their signatures to try to assess what their motives might be. What they are sharing in is a determination by the European nations to improve that capability. That is something which, frankly, the United States has argued for for a very long time. I have been visiting Washington in a political capacity regularly since 1984 and I cannot recall any occasion when I have met senators and congressmen when they have not said to me "we want to see Europe make a more effective contribution". That has been a theme of politics in the United States I suspect long before 1984, but certainly that has been my experience. Therefore, that is why the United States have so strongly supported the effort of the Europeans to make a more effective contribution. To repeat, not only will this strengthen the ability of Europe to respond through its Common and Foreign Security Policy, crucially it also supports the ability of European nations to make a more effective contribution to NATO. 79. So you do not believe that they may be thinking that the end package could not be something that they are going to be absolutely signed up to, there is no question that it might drift somewhat to make them feel uncomfortable? (Mr Hoon) Again, I have used the word "aspiration", I think aspiration is the right word because we have yet to achieve it. They have signed up to this and signed up to a very practical commitment which is why I keep putting the emphasis in terms of what we want to do in a very realistic sense. This is not some sort of constitutional arrangement we are setting out, we are setting out what it is that the countries will have to contribute. The work that is going on now, and will continue, is to find the practical ways in which each country can make their appropriate contribution. I do think this is not about esoteric views of political integration, it is about how we do better in arguably the most practical area of Government activity, which is defence. Mr Hood 80. I agree with the point that you are making, Secretary of State, about the view from America. America has argued for many years about burden share. The real politicians in the United States understand what it is all about but there are the hawks on the hill who prophesy the break up of NATO, the European conspiracy and forecast a Third World War, or is that me just making a judgment on Julian's contribution? What I would like to ask is we hear about the burden share, about the GPD averaging at 1.3 in European countries, one of the major areas that we surely have to look at in ESDI is intelligence and satellite intelligence. What sort of investment is Europe going to make about providing more of its own intelligence and to be less dependent? That is part of the burden share, providing more satellite intelligence. (Mr Hoon) Let me just comment on your observation about the hill and about Washington. The US is one of the world's liveliest and most vigorous democracies. Frankly, I would be astonished if there were not a range of views amongst opinion formers in the US as there are a range of views here. There are some people here who I understand believe that Britain would be better off outside the European Union. Chairman 81. I am one of them. (Mr Hoon) It is a slightly strange idea, it is totally inconsistent with the established opinion of the main political parties, but I recognise that some people have those rather curious views. Dr Lewis 82. I did not realise that you had that view, Chairman. (Mr Hoon) It is part of what makes democracy such an exciting but, I accept, at times frustrating experience, that there is such a range of views. There is that range of views in the United States about these issues and I would expect to find those different opinions. Can I just emphasise the very strong support that the administration have given to this. On a number of occasions people have made it clear how much the US supports it. I will quote, as I have done on a number of occasions, Strobe Talbot, a more recent quotation. What he has said more recently is "There should be no confusion about America's position on a need for a stronger Europe. We are not against. We are not ambivalent. We are not anxious. We are for it. We want to see a Europe that can act effectively through the Alliance or, if NATO is not engaged, on its own. Period. End of debate". I could not have expected a clearer setting out of the views of the United States administration than that. I hope that this argument that somehow the US are less than supportive can finally be laid to rest. Mr Hood 83. You did not answer my question about the intelligence issue. (Mr Hoon) I was going on to it. I think it is important that for the avoidance of doubt the position of the US administration is made clear. Clearly the European Union would require effective intelligence to be able to deal properly with a developing crisis. We would not, for example, allow our forces to be engaged in operations where there was not effective intelligence available to them, that would be to put them at a risk that I would not tolerate. We need to support the decisions that we take, the deployments that we make, by effective intelligence. That is part of the process that we are engaged in as to how best to deliver this capability. How best do we secure appropriate intelligence to EU forces if that actually was a situation where NATO was not engaged? I think the most likely outcome, frankly, sitting here today, is to say that we would look to NATO to provide that intelligence which it would provide today for a NATO led operation. It is part of that process of exchanging of information that I see as being the way in which the two institutions would work very closely together. Chairman 84. Have you in the Ministry or Defence or in the Foreign Office embarked on any strategy of going out to the United States to talk to various congressional committees to allay any fears that NATO is about to collapse? Or perhaps you could send Mr Hatfield along to Boise, Idaho, which appears to be the MoD's policy to transmit information to a wider audience. Maybe somebody could go out, if they have not already done, and say "Look, this is the reality, a European Security Defence Identity is not going to be followed by 'Thank you, Americans, stay back home'." (Mr Hoon) There is no strategy as such. No planning needs to go into this in the sense that I have set out very clearly the US views. Certainly I would expect when I meet representatives of the administration in Washington to also similarly meet significant Members of Congress. Indeed, three or four weeks ago I met a number of senators, a number of congressmen, and indeed have regularly met them in the course of visits to Europe either in London or, very recently, at a Security Conference at Munich. There is a regular exchange of views. I assure you that we take every opportunity of making sure that there is a proper understanding of what it is that we are engaged on. 85. But in the mind of a backwoodsman, or perhaps it is disparaging to call my fellow congressmen backwoodsman, but for those who may not be going along to functions at the British Embassy and do not get invited to Vancouver, is there any attempt to solicit invitations to the various committees to say "this is the score, please do not get too alarmed about it"? (Mr Hoon) Certainly we have set out our position on a number of occasions. For example, I have written articles in the American press explaining what it is that we are engaged on. We have sought to reach a wider American audience. As I said earlier, there are backwoodsman in the United Kingdom who do not seem to recognise the reality of our membership of the European Union. We cannot always reach every part of the body politic but we certainly do our best. Laura Moffatt 86. Can I finish by asking have we heard anything from the presidential contenders at all on this particular issue? (Mr Hoon) Certainly I am not aware that they have said anything specific on this particular subject. I am not aware that they have expressed any particular concerns. There was an article written in the Financial Times by Robert Zollick who I understand is an adviser to George W Bush in which, again, he made it clear that he wanted to see Europe develop a more effective capability and that he was supportive of the efforts that we have made. I do not see this as being a very big political issue in the primaries on either side of the political divide of the United States. Mr Cann: I am going to collapse my questions, if I may, Chairman. Chairman: Please do. Mr Cann 87. Number one: is Luxembourg really going to spend more money on this business or is it better to try to look at reform? Number two: how are we going to measure the progress that people say they are going to make up until the start date? Number three: how will the SDR be affected, if at all? Number four, and crucially: will we end up paying most of it as usual? (Mr Hoon) The general answer to that is having set out a specific headline goal it is for each country to determine how it satisfies that aspiration or ambition, target, goal, whatever word you want to use although I think they are all applicable. My recollection is that there are only something like 220,000 registered voters in Luxembourg of a population of maybe 400,000. If I am getting them wrong I apologise. Inevitably their contribution is going to be more limited. That is one of the reasons why I mentioned the close co-operation that exists between commando forces of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. I actually think that there is a lot of scope for developing those kinds of mutual arrangements between larger countries and smaller countries. It is certainly something that I would like to see. As far as the progress is concerned, there will be a very careful development of each country's contribution. This is an essentially practical exercise and as we go along we will be monitoring very closely the way in which this works because we want to make sure that this is an effective contribution and not simply one that is available on a piece of paper somewhere in a filing cabinet. So we will be looking very cautiously and very critically at the ways in which each country makes its contribution to satisfying the headline goal. As I said earlier, that might lead to the need in other countries to go through the kind of process that we went through with the Strategic Defence Review. Indeed, that has happened in France and it is happening in Germany. I think there is a clear recognition that in order to satisfy this goal, even if more money totally is not spent then certainly the money that is available already has to be spent in a different way. I have to say that we will not be spending all of Britain's defence contribution in this way. We clearly have had lessons to learn in ensuring that we are capable as a country of delivering rapid deployment and there are still further lessons, as I indicated earlier, that we have to learn from the experience in Kosovo and we are determined to do that. In a sense what we are looking for, if I can put it in a short and rather headline way, is for Europe to have an SDR of its own. What we are looking for is Europe to think through the implications of the changes that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union and apply them collectively to the kind of capability that we will require to meet a much more challenging and uncertain world. Mr Cann: One last question, Chairman, I will behave myself. Chairman: It will take more than one last question to achieve that goal. Mr Cann 88. One last question to Mr Hatfield. You mentioned ARRC earlier as an example of how these things can be organised and units can be in different places and be brought together. ARRC looks beautiful on a piece of paper, ten divisions, one and a half of them British, but when you actually try to pull it together, the Greeks cannot work with the Turks, you cannot have the Italians anywhere in the Balkans, the Germans cannot go anywhere, and at the end of the day you do not seem to be able to deploy anybody. This thing is not going to be like that, is it? Please tell me that it is not going to be like that. (Mr Hatfield) I could describe ARRC in a different way. If I could take a politician's type of answer to this in role reversal. The ARRC, as a formation, is NATO's most effective military formation to date. Despite its shortcomings it is what NATO deploys first in a crisis, and has done so twice in the last five years. It is not that bad a model. 89. It is usually British troops. (Mr Hatfield) Oh, no, it is not. They are there but they are not the only people there. 90. They are usually the first in. (Mr Hoon) Could I just add this point. I also share Richard's view that the ARRC is an extremely successful organisation but what we actually want to see is the development of similar operations that we can use in more than one crisis because, frankly, one of the experiences we have had is that we have not had the ability to deploy to more than one crisis. That was something we faced in the Balkans and it is something that we have to learn from. Therefore, the more capability of this kind that can be developed the better. I accept that there are going to be problems in achieving it but this is the kind of world we live in and, therefore, we have got to find ways of developing this kind of facility. Mr Gapes 91. Can I take you back to the Finnish Presidency Report, Secretary of State. (Mr Hoon) I would be delighted to. 92. On 24 November last year it was adopted and it includes paragraph 23 which talks about as an interim measure two bodies which were going to be set up as of the beginning of 2000. They were the interim Political and Security Committee and, reporting to that, the interim Committee of Military Representatives. I would like to ask have we yet designated our UK representatives to these interim bodies and, if so, who are they? Secondly, will these people on these committees be double-hatted from other comparable posts, or are they single appointments? Thirdly, how long is "interim"? (Mr Hatfield) The answer to your first question is yes, we have designated our appointments, the key appointments. We have designated our current UK military representative, Admiral Haddacks. He is also our current WEU representative. He will be the representative on the European Union Military Committee. 93. So he is not going to be schizophrenic, he is going to be split into three? (Mr Hatfield) At the end of the transition period the WEU hat disappears. That is one of the good outcomes. I hope the transition period is short, eighteen months maximum or a bit less if we are lucky for that. For the interim Political and Security Committee I believe a Foreign Office official by the name of Mr David Richmond has been designated. 94. Is he currently in Brussels? (Mr Hatfield) No, I think he is currently in New York. 95. Is he going to be double-hatted? (Mr Hatfield) There is nothing to double-hat on the ---- 96. He is not part of our representation to NATO? (Mr Hatfield) No. This is the Political Committee, not the Military Committee. (Mr Hoon) That would not be appropriate. (Mr Hatfield) You asked about double-hatting in general I think? 97. Yes. (Mr Hatfield) My current expectation is that in the interim phase all but two nations who are in NATO and the EU will be double-hatting. I think the French have decided not to double-hat in the interim phase but are reserving a decision on the permanent phase. The Belgians I do not think have taken a final decision but may be going to put separate people in the Military Committee. Mr Blunt 98. Can I just ask you about paragraphs 34 and 35 of the Presidency Progress Report and the problem that in paragraph 35 it says "the decision to end an operation will be taken by the Council after appropriate consultation with other participating states", whilst on the ad hoc committee set up at the PSC level, the political and security level, paragraph 34 has everybody on it who is taking part in the operation who may be non-NATO members and maybe non- EU members. Is there the potential for a clash of interests on that committee amongst those nations who might be on that committee by virtue of being in the EU but not taking part in the operation? (Mr Hatfield) No. The distinction here is essentially that the formality, the very important formality, of launching an operation, or ending it, in the EU's name has to be a decision of the EU. Clearly it is a matter of constitution if you like. Equally clearly, if other people are participating in the operation you have to make arrangements for consulting them and involving them in the decisions and you cannot say "by the way, the EU left, would you, Turks, stay behind?" In the conduct of the operation all participants have equal rights whether or not they are actually members of the EU. (Mr Hoon) We have made it quite clear to the six that we would want to see them fully involved in this process. Clearly the technical point at which the decision is taken will be a decision for the 15 but the reality is we want as much involvement as possible from non-EU allies and we have worked very closely with them in discussing the kinds of ways in which that will be possible. We are still working on that and there are areas that we want to see developing. 99. I presume that it takes unanimity to initiate an operation. What happens when the Council wants to come to end an operation, does it require one state to say "enough" or has everybody got to say "enough"? (Mr Hatfield) I think the answer to that is if you can answer how NATO comes to that conclusion you have also answered how the EU comes to that conclusion. The procedure is exactly the same in formal terms. For the proposal of an operation you have an alliance of X nations and how they actually take a decision in practice is a mystery in advance. The formal position will be exactly the same as for NATO ending a collective major operation. 100. So what is the position if, during the course of an operation, one country is content to go with the flow at the beginning of the operation and does not wish to veto it but, let us say, with Kosovo, for example, the Greek Government collapsed and a new government came in saying "we are absolutely opposed to this operation, we will do everything we institutionally can to stop it", in that sort of circumstance what would happen? (Mr Hatfield) The position is exactly the same for EU as for NATO. If a NATO member at some stage in the operation formally opposed it you would no longer have a NATO operation. Equally, you might find a NATO nation, or an EU nation, finding it was no longer possible to participate for whatever reason but supported the continuation of the operation. There is absolutely no difference in the make-up of the question whether it is addressed to the EU or NATO. 101. Can I come on to dealing with these committees. How do you see the relationship between this structure of political authority and that which might be embodied in the Contact Group or with the United Nations' Secretary General's Higher Representative? (Mr Hoon) It is part of the way in which the international community responds to given situations. It is almost impossible to be precise about those kinds of relationships in the sense that they depend very much on the politics of a given situation. The one thing I want to emphasise to you, and I have said this already, is that in trying to deal with a crisis we do not all wait until we get into a specific room in order to work out what it is that we are going to do, there is a range of contacts, a range of bilateral discussions, sometimes discussions involving groups of countries, sometimes not, in order to try to make sure that we have a consistent view of the international community. Part of that will clearly involve discussion with the United Nations. 102. But informally and practically? (Mr Hoon) I can conceive of circumstances in which there would be a formal process but I suspect that the reality is in most situations that it would be an informal one. Mr Hepburn 103. Can I also refer to the Progress Report as my colleagues have done. In paragraph six it refers to arrangements for co-operation between the EU/ESDI institutions and other "non-EU European NATO members". Paragraph 30 of the Progress Report refers to the permanent structures which will be established for dialogue. Could I ask, firstly, how will this co-operation work in practice? What do we actually mean by "permanent structures"? When will they be established? What will be their remit? When we talk about permanent structures, how permanent are we talking about? Are we talking about meeting only when a crisis occurs or will there be a standing arrangement? (Mr Hoon) I cannot give you a precise answer to that today because those are matters that we are still working on. At Helsinki the Council agreed the fullest possible involvement and participation of non-EU European allies. What we have to do is to find the practical ways to give expression to that commitment. Let us be realistic about it, these are important countries, these are countries that we want to be involved in the process. Moreover, I think the answer to your question can be found in what I have described as the developing political crisis. Having taken all sorts of decisions escalating the response of the international community at EU level, at the point at which you then decide that you need forces, you could not suddenly ring up Turkey and say "by the way, we would like to use some of your forces" any more than you could any other non-EU ally. The reality would be that you would want them involved in the fullest possible way at every stage in the process. We have yet to find precise institutional mechanisms to achieve that. Chairman 104. You know very well how worked up the Norwegians and the Turks are. Do you think that something can be put together that will give our NATO partners, and very significant NATO partners at each end of the Alliance, the reassurance that they require? The Americans obviously are rooting for them on this. (Mr Hoon) "Worked up" I would describe as a little bit of an overstatement, Chairman. Having spoken to both of my counterparts from Norway and Turkey in the relatively recent past I would not describe them as being worked up about it. 105. What word would you use? (Mr Hoon) I would say that they are determined, as we are, to find an appropriate mechanism. They, as we, recognise that it is crucial that they should be involved but we have got to find the right way of delivering the commitment made by all 15 Member States at Helsinki. In a sense this is a technical matter because we have got to find the right mechanism for involvement consistent, as Richard said, with the precise constitutional arrangements of the European Union. I am absolutely confident that we will do that. 106. We obviously have a perception difference on quite a number of issues. (Mr Hoon) Clearly if you would like to report to me your meetings with my defence counterparts --- Chairman: If you do likewise in return. I will take you up on that, Secretary of State. Mr Hancock 107. I declare an interest here as a Member of the Parliamentary Assembly for the WEU. There is a lot of concern about the ongoing role not only of the WEU itself but of the parliamentary scrutiny of ESDI and how that will be managed. As of yet there is no clear policy. There are some contradictions over Article 4 and countries having to sign up to different aspects of this. One, how are you going to overcome problems on Article 4? Two, how are you going to guarantee proper parliamentary scrutiny? Three, is there an ongoing role for the WEU at the end of this year? (Mr Hoon) One of the first things that I think it is important to emphasise is the way in which the WEU itself has adapted over time. The idea that this is a fixed body that has always had the same functions and responsibilities is simply not the case. As you will know the WEU was actually founded before NATO and was adapted to take advantage of the situation that was created after NATO. Indeed, in the course of its existence, I suppose most recently in 1984, it has adapted again. I can see the possibility of further change for parts of what it does. The essential premise in order to avoid the plethora of committees and organisations that we referred to earlier is that the essential functions in the WEU in a sense would be folded into the European Union to avoid this kind of unnecessary duplication that might otherwise arise. There are still some discussions that we have to have about what parts of the institutional make-up of the WEU would continue after that process. I suspect that the most sensitive area is the question of the Western European Union Assembly. All I can say is that no decisions have been taken yet about its future. I am sure we will want to listen to the views of Members of the Assembly as to how they see its future but, as of yet, we have yet to reach any specific conclusions. 108. So where in the European context would be the parliamentary scrutiny? It cannot be the European Parliament. (Mr Hoon) No, although the European Parliament clearly has a responsibility in relation to Common and Foreign Security Policy, it can clearly have debates, it can clearly have debates about European defence, but we would not expect to see the European Parliament reaching specific conclusions. Clearly under the structure and the constitution that has been established they would not have a formal constitutional role but then, in a sense, neither does the Assembly. These are consultative processes. We emphasise, and continue to emphasise, the role of individual nations in making decisions as to whether, for example, to deploy forces and I would be entirely content, as far as the United Kingdom is concerned, that the scrutiny of that decision will continue to rest firmly in Parliament. That is the position as of today and I would not expect you or any other Member of Parliament to resist that. 109. No, not for the UK but the overall umbrella organisation that will be looking after this. Are you saying basically that it will be heads of government, will it be a new Commission if there is going to be no pan- European Parliamentary Assembly? (Mr Hoon) I did not say that. In fact, I said the opposite. 110. What are the Government saying? (Mr Hoon) We have not reached a decision on that. This is something that we will continue to look at because it is one of those implications of the decision, in a sense, of folding the WEU's functions into the European Union that we would still need to consider. As I have said, I am perfectly willing to listen to arguments that say the Assembly should continue, it should still continue to have a useful function, but I think we need to look precisely at what its role has been in the past, what it has achieved and whether that kind of scrutiny, which I recognise is essential in democracies, cannot be, and is not, carried out through domestic parliaments. Frankly, if it came to a debate between whether effective parliamentary scrutiny of those kinds of decisions was exercised through Parliament here or better through the Assembly, I am pretty clear as to what most Members of Parliament would respond. 111. You are talking about individual commitments of a country to it. I am talking about an overall view of what this organisation is going to be doing. There are some members who made it quite clear to your predecessor, and now Secretary-General, on Monday that some countries will not sign up to this without some sort of parliamentary overview. (Mr Hoon) That is clearly a factor that we will take into account in determining ---- 112. Your colleague looks surprised. You should have been at the meeting. (Mr Hoon) It is something that we will take into account in assessing what would be the future ---- 113. Your former colleague was at the meeting. (Mr Hatfield) Perhaps I could ask you what you are asking should be over-viewed because most of this is inter-governmental. I am not quite clear what it is you are referring to. 114. So is the WEU at the present time, so is NATO. NATO has a parliamentary assembly, somewhat of a eunuch organisation but nevertheless they have one, and there is some semblance of parliamentarians being involved on a pan-European basis. (Mr Hoon) You are pushing at a door that is not closed, let me make it clear. If you and your colleagues in the Assembly want to set out a continuing role and function for the Assembly I am perfectly willing to listen to that and to consider that, if necessary, could be something that the British Government would decide was acceptable. You have got to be clear as to what it is you see to be the continuing role of the Assembly. Chairman: Thank you. Mr Hancock is clearly building up a great deal of support amongst Members of the North Atlantic Assembly, one on either side of him. Having accused us of being eunuchs, or participating in a eunuch-like organisation, I move away from him to a Member of that eunuch organisation, Mr Harry Cohen. Mr Cohen: You did say I was to do number 15, Chairman. Chairman: This is a very flexible organisation. Mr Cohen: Bearing in mind that 15 is not on the agenda --- Chairman: You do 14. Mr Cohen 115. I will ask my own question 15. Firstly, can I ask the Secretary of State about the national missile defence and how that applies within the European set-up? I know that he was in Washington recently and I saw a report that said he wanted to build a bridge between the United States and Europe over this issue. What does that mean in terms of European defence? (Mr Hoon) I am perfectly willing to talk about national missile defence although, for the moment, it has no European significance in the sense that this may be, and is not yet, a policy which the United States administration decides to adopt. There is some legal requirement on them to do so but it is not yet a commitment of the United States. It is a matter that the President still has to resolve upon. What I would say is this: in the decisions that will be taken in Washington I believe that it is very important that European allies should be consulted and should have the opportunity of setting out their views and I have welcomed the response of the US Defence Secretary, Bill Cohen, most recently at Munich but equally in Brussels shortly before Christmas, to allow that sort of debate to develop amongst European allies. I think it is very important that the US is clear about the reaction of its allies in the Alliance to this important development. For the moment this is a peculiarly and particularly American policy. Chairman: Perhaps at some appropriate date we could invite you to comment on that. Mr Gapes. Mr Gapes: I think this is the last question you will be relieved to hear. Chairman: Almost. Mr Gapes 116. The last one from me. (Mr Hoon) I am enjoying myself so much. 117. Getting back to the Finnish Presidency document again, paragraph 15 claims that "Encouraging progress has been made towards the restructuring of European defence industries, which constitutes an important step forward and contributes to strengthening the European industrial and technological basis." Is not the reality that this restructuring of defence industries is in many cases a trans-Atlantic relationship? Many of the companies in Europe have got partners across the Atlantic, many of the major contracts are competitive bids between companies in Europe linked to North American ones against others doing the same. How can we see this developing of defence restructuring assisting ESDI? Is it still realistic to see it in those terms or, in fact, is it going to require other changes to bring that about? (Mr Hoon) I do not entirely accept your premise. I do not accept that there is an inevitability about trans-Atlantic integration although clearly there are elements of that already in the way in which industry has restructured. That will be part of it. Equally, there are some very important developments on the continent that we have to have regard to as there is a degree of consolidation and restructuring there. From the point of view of a Defence Minister who has to purchase on behalf of the taxpayer significant items of defence equipment, one of the crucial considerations for me will be to maintain competition. Whilst we tend to concentrate on the very biggest defence procurement programmes, the reality is that we are engaged in a very significant procurement of some fairly modest items from time to time and what we would want to avoid is the idea that we were going to a monopoly supplier and therefore allowing the price to be fixed irrespective of the needs for competition. What I really think is happening is that instead of there being created monolithic defence companies, whether they are across the Atlantic or European, there is a good deal of - now I am going to use the phrase - ad hoc co-operation. What you find is that different companies are coming together for particular purposes, they are pooling their strengths in different technologies and are bidding for contracts on both sides of the Atlantic and elsewhere in the world without necessarily having to enter into formal company mergers that will last for all time. Indeed, certainly I think you are seeing a process of consolidation but at the same time some arrangements to actually cut across formal company lines because, in fact, in putting together bids for particular programmes it is often better and more flexible to try to see ways in which they can work together notwithstanding the formal company structure. Chairman 118. Thank you. The French will be assuming responsibility culminating in the Nice Summit. Do you think we will have a clearer idea of the French agenda at the end of that period of the Presidency? (Mr Hoon) As you know better than I, Chairman, the agenda of the European Union is fixed by its members and not by any particular Member State. There may be different emphases that different Presidencies place but the determination of what is on the agenda is a matter that is agreed collectively. 119. We will put our bid in now to your diary, Secretary of State, so you can come and talk to us either just before or just after, preferably before, the Nice Summit and perhaps you can elaborate further. (Mr Hoon) As ever, I will look forward to it. 120. Thank you. That was really very interesting and very helpful. There are some follow up questions that we would like to ask and if there is further documentation perhaps you could identify it. (Mr Hoon) I thought for a moment you were going to suggest I should come back next week. Chairman: As your Mr Barton comes very regularly to our meetings we do feel that you are here indirectly if not directly. Thank you very much.