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EU plans to increase joint defense spending and to secure elections in Congo

The EU observer reports that the "EU defence ministers have given the green light to create a common defence research and technology (R&T) fund, aimed at narrowing the gap between the US and Europe in high-tech military equipment." They asked the European Defence Agency to prepare detailed proposals for their meeting in May on a joint programme of investment in R&T, and funding arrangements to support it. The European Defence Agency (EDA) has been created in 2004 to
help EU Member States develop their defence capabilities for crisis-management operations under the European Security and Defence Policy. The Agency will achieve its goals by encouraging EU governments to spend defence budgets on meeting tomorrow’s challenges, not yesterday’s threats; and by helping them to identify common needs and promoting collaboration to provide common solutions.
The EDA is headed by EU foreign policy chief and Fulbright alumnus Javier Solana, who said about the defense ministers' meeting:
Everybody accepts that Europe has to raise its game on defence as a whole and on pursuing the new technologies which will give us the capabilities we need in the future and strengthen our industries and research institutions. (...) Today’s discussions have helped to establish a framework for identifying the most important objectives and the right funding mechanisms to ensure that we spend more, spend more together and spend more effectively in this crucial area.
Most observers are sceptical concerning EU deliberations to secure the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June. There is strong pressure on Germany to lead this EU peacekeeping mission.  Many German experts question the wisdom of such a mission and Germany's capabilities to commit sufficient troops.
UPI's Chief European Correspondent analyses the EU discussions concerning a Congo mission:
The European Union is anxious to become a major player on the world stage. Haunted by it failure to stop bloodletting in the Balkans in the 1990s and taunts that it is an "economic giant but a political and military pygmy" -- in former NATO chief George Robertson's memorable phrase -- it has started to project power more muscularly in recent years. But the inability of EU defense ministers to rustle together enough troops to monitor elections in the Congo Tuesday shows how far the bloc has to go to convert its lofty goals into reality. (...) Expressing solidarity with Africa and unqualified backing for the United Nations in international forums is one thing. Asking European governments to risk their soldiers' lives to back these ideals appears to be another.

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Olaf Petersen on :

Only fantasy: There are only few places on earth close to equator suitable for spaceports - one of them is the north of Congo. This given, plus the tremendous natural resources, encourages me to predict that Congo will have a bright future - in the very long run.

Thomas on :

Yes, fantasy. Congo's tremendous natural ressources have been the main reasons why Congo was brutally colonized and there is such a nasty (civil) war. Congo is considered Africa's world war, because just like the WWI in Europe there have been (or still are) so many African countries and some mercenaries involved. I don't think this EU mission (limited to secure elections in the Congo's capital?) will make much of a difference, but I don't know very much about the current situation in Congo. I need to read more about that peace agreement etc.

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