Afghan crisis fuels debate over EU response force |

Does the European Union need its own force that can be relocated to countries in crisis in a short period of time? The EU foreign affairs representative is strengthened by the events in Afghanistan.

Brussels (dpa) – Events in Afghanistan show, from the point of view of the EU representative abroad, Josep Borrell, that the European Union needs its own rapid military reaction force.

Borrell is ready to continue the discussion, a senior EU official said in Brussels on Tuesday. Such a reaction force could have been used, for example, to ensure the continued operation of Kabul airport for evacuation flights after the withdrawal of the United States.

The foregoing considerations envision the creation of a unit of about 5,000 troops that can be relocated to countries in crisis within a short period of time. For example, it should also be able to be used in the fight against international terrorism in countries like Mali. Reports that Borrell is targeting a 50,000-strong unit were not confirmed on Tuesday.

According to the plans, the EU’s crisis response forces, which already exist but have never been deployed so far, should ideally be integrated into the new unit. Typically, they consist of two combat groups, each with around 1,500 troops, which are supplied alternately by different EU countries.

Germany and a dozen other countries had already spoken in favor of setting up an EU rapid reaction force in the spring. For example, Poland and the Baltic states did not support the plans at the time. One of the reasons is that these countries have so far relied mainly on NATO for military and defense matters and fear a possible weakening of the alliance with the United States.

The next discussions on the subject could take place this Wednesday and Thursday in Slovenia. Defense ministers of EU countries meet there for informal talks. Borrell and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are there.

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