ROME (Reuters) – The European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, said European Union governments should create a European rapid reaction force to be better prepared for future crises such as the one in Afghanistan.
In an interview published on Monday with Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Josep Borrell said the rapid deployment of US forces in Afghanistan showed that the EU should intensify its efforts to develop a common defense policy.
“We must learn from this experience (…) as Europeans, we were not able to send 6,000 soldiers to secure the Kabul airport area. The United States did. But not us,” he said. .
For Josep Borrell, the bloc should have a rapid deployment force (“primary entry force”) of 5,000 soldiers. “We must be able to move quickly,” he added.
A joint system of battle groups, each consisting of 1,500 soldiers, was created in 2007 to respond to crises but never intervened because EU governments were unable to agree on how and when they would be deployed.
Josep Borrell said it was time to show flexibility to overcome the restrictions on military operations enshrined in the EU’s constitutional texts, citing, for example, the agreements concluded quickly to deal with the financial crisis.
With the departure of the United Kingdom, which opposed the creation of an armed force, in any form, from the European Union, the European Executive hopes to revive this idea.
However, obstacles remain, notably the absence of a common defense culture within the Federation and differences over which operations should be preferred.
(Reporting by Giselda Fagnoni and Robin Emmott; by Sabine Siebold, French version by Valentine Baldassare, Editing by Blandine Hinault)
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