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Four-Party Summit on La Défense. A European headquarters before the end of 2004?

(B2) Gathered in a mini summit on European defense in Brussels, the French, German, Belgian and Luxembourg leaders are reaching out to their alter ego UK and have set themselves a deadline, the end of 2004, to achieve European progress.

Four typewritten pages, in tight font to give new impetus to this defense of which Europe (read the conclusions)

The peace clan is not a group of putschists

It was in a conference room at the Brussels Hilton, transformed into a press room for the occasion, that the four leaders of the “peace clan” (opposed to the Iraq war) had chosen to affirm in front of the press their desire to give “new impetus” to this defense policy which Europe lacks so much. With a leitmotif: “n'exclude anyone". "All European progress has originated from the initiative of a few States” explained Chirac, citing without restraint the Franco-British precedent of Saint Malo! “ This initiative is open to all other added Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. " Nicht allin » (not alone) added Gerhard Schröder. " We are not a squad of putschists” joked Jean-Claude Juncker for Luxembourg. As for concrete proposals, even if the 'Four' are careful not to say the word, it is a question of (re)creating a permanent European general staff capable of ensuring liaison between the different EU forces engaged on the ground. , particularly for peacekeeping missions,… and with NATO.

The idea is not new…

To avoid annoying words, the Four have also found a new word for an old proposition: create a “core collective capacity for planning and conducting operationss”. The idea, if not new, is well advanced. The location has already been found, in Tervuren, the Versailles of Brussels. And this "core” should bring together a few dozen officers from volunteer countries. They won't really be disoriented. Some are already in Brussels, on a regular or semi-permanent basis, some for the needs of meetings of the European Union which (already) has an embryonic European headquarters, some for meetings of NATO and its headquarters , the Shape, in Mons. Along the same lines, a joint command would be created for strategic air transport based on the A400M program. This proposal, with a few others, must be presented to the foreign ministers of the '25' meeting in “gymnich” in Greece this Friday. “We will then see how this idea will be received” estimates a close collaborator of President Chirac. He who loves Europe follows… one could say!

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

A trip to the antique dealers

To combine business with pleasure, Jacques Chirac and Guy Verhofstadt, on the sidelines of the European defense summit, made a small trip to the official program by allowing themselves a good 20 minutes of Chinese affairs with a specialist in like, Gisèle Croes, who runs a gallery of Chinese art from the high period. As he left, Jacques Chirac couldn't help but shake a few hands. “He is campaigning” proclaimed, all smiles, Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian Prime Minister who speaks with full knowledge of the facts, the legislative elections are in a few days… in Belgium.

Completed version of the article published in France-Soir April 2003

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).