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Five European countries propose EU rapid reaction force

Five European countries have proposed an EU rapid reaction force to give the union the ability to act more robustly and quickly.

Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, and Slovenia have drafted a paper proposing that existing EU Battlegroups (EUBGs) be developed into rapidly deployable crisis reaction forces and that the joint decision making on their use be speeded up.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the four other countries presented the initiative to a framework nations seminar in Brussels on 21 October. The evacuation from Kabul in August shows that the EU should be able to act more robustly and quickly, according to the paper.

The five nations proposed that decision making be speeded up by allowing the formation of coalitions of the willing, as stipulated by Article 44 of the EU Treaty. These ad hoc coalitions would be approved by the EU Council to conduct missions or operations.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said EU defence did not require new structures but rather better processes and could be made more robust by longer force standby periods and better training and exercises.

However, she does not see improving EU rapid reaction capabilities as an alternative to co-operation with the United States. She told the Politico news organisation on 21 October, “People are asking why we were not in a position to hold the Kabul airport ourselves. We have to say quite openly: without the capabilities of the Americans, we, as Europeans, would not have been able to do that.” Kramp-Karrenbauer said Europeans should be asking themselves how to “become capable to act within NATO”, not how they could be capable of acting outside the alliance.

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