By JULIAN HALE
BRUSSELS¬†‚Äî The European Union will consider ways to improve long-term defense cooperation and transparency among member nations ahead of a summit of EU heads of state and government in December.
The EU chiefs of defense will meet Nov. 11-12 to ‚Äúlook into how more transparency can be achieved in national defense planning and in what areas this is possible,‚Äù said Patrick De Rousiers, the chairman of the EU‚Äôs Military Committee, at a press briefing here Thursday. ‚ÄúThere is political will to go along that track. It is up to the military to propose options so that it can take place.‚Äù
De Rousiers said he sees ‚Äúcooperation in geographical clusters happening more and more,‚Äù and expects an announcement by EU leaders on that topic at the December summit.
‚ÄúInteractions between the Belgian and Dutch military public sectors is increasing day after day,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs wiser to share, but it could lead to different standards and ways of operating.‚Äù
European Commission proposals for dual-use research among EU member states will also be discussed at the November meeting, he said.
Among other potential outcomes of the December summit, De Rousiers pointed to the need for an EU maritime security strategy. He also said he expected the Air Transport Command pooling and sharing model to be reproduced in other areas, and expects new rounds of partnership in areas such as aerial refueling, drones and cyberdefense.
Separately, he said a strategic review of the EU‚Äôs counterpiracy mission off Somalia, called Operation Atalanta, would be carried out this autumn.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôll probably see an extension of it into 2014, but for how long and its focus will be being discussed in the EU Military Committee and the EU‚Äôs Political and Security Committee,‚Äù he said.
‚ÄúThe business model of the pirates has been severely attacked, and so they are shifting to other areas,‚Äù De Rousiers said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre looking at what other areas they are and what the implications are.‚Äù
The Military Committee also will assess an experiment in which Atalanta ships were used to offer training to senior Somali military personnel, and whether that was a ‚Äúone-off‚Äù or should be continued, he said.