Military


Eurocorps

The Eurocorps was created in 1992 as the concrete implementation of a political will that has developed since the 1950's. The Eurocorps comprises military contributions from its five member states: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain. The Headquarters, in which soldiers from the member states and also from Austria, Finland, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the United Kingdom participate, is located in Strasbourg, France. HQ Eurocorps recently took part in SFOR and KFOR missions in former Yugoslavia. At the beginning of the third millennium it is now available as a Rapid Reaction Corps HQ for both the EU and NATO.

The Headquarters (HQ) EUROCORPS, located in Strasbourg (France), comprises the Command Group, the Staff, Headquarters Support Battalion, four National Support Detachments and the staff of the Multinational Command Support Brigade. A total of approximately 900 soldiers and 70 civilians work at the Headquarters.

Except for the French-German Brigade and the Staff of the Multinational Command Support Brigade (MNCS Bde) that are permanently under operational command of HQ Eurocorps, the national contributions remain under national command in peacetime. They become fully subordinated after Transfer of Authority has been decided by member states. The type and size of units needed by the Eurocorps have to be determined depending on the assigned mission, likely employment and the expected operational outcome. In the case that all the earmarked national contributions are committed, the Corps would number approximately 60,000 soldiers.

On October 14, 1991, the heads of states of France and Germany informed the President of the European Council in a joint letter that they intended to further increase their military co-operation. This process was the basis for a Corps that would also be open to other WEU member states. On May 22, 1992, during the La Rochelle Summit the Joint Report of the French and German Defence Ministers was endorsed and François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl formally founded the EUROCORPS. A few weeks later, on July 1, 1992, an implementation team arrived in Strasbourg to build up the Eurocorps Headquarters.

On June 19, 1992, the Petersberg Declaration of the Western European Union defined the WEU's role as the defence arm of the European Union and set the different tasks (or "Petersberg missions") that could be carried out under WEU authority (nowadays: EU authority). One year later in Rome, on May 19, 1993, the member states decided to make the Eurocorps available to the WEU.

Belgium joined on June 25th, 1993. Spain joined the Eurocorps on July 1, 1994, becoming the fourth member. Luxembourg joined the Eurocorps on May 7, 1996, as the fifth Member State.

On May 29, 1999, at the French-German Summit in Toulouse, it was proposed to place the Eurocorps at the disposal of the European Union for crisis response operations. This was accepted by the other member states and formally announced at the European Union (EU) Summit in Cologne (3-4 June 1999). At this Summit, the EU decided to strengthen its capabilities and to set a crisis response force. This was confirmed during the Helsinki EU Summit (December 1999). Around the same time, at a meeting in Luxembourg, Eurocorps member states decided to transform the Eurocorps into a Rapid Reaction Corps available to both the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance.

After detailed studies the present transformation started on 5th June 2001. No later than April 2001, the member states of the Eurocorps had offered the corps to NATO as a "NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Headquarters." EUROCORPS transformed to NATO High Readiness Force Land [HRF(L)] HQ. In September 2002 the Eurocorps Headquarters successfully passed longlasting tests by a NATO evaluation team to prove its qualification as a so-called High Readiness Forces Headquarters. After a final exercise in Wildflecken, being visited on Thursday by three Ministers and delegations of the five member nations Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and Spain, the final result was announced by the NATO officials: The evaluation team recommended to SACEUR ( Supreme Allied Commander Europe) that the Headquarters Eurocorps had attained the Full Operational Capability criteria.

In February 2003 Austria and Finland signed an agreement to join the Eurocorps by detaching staff members to Strasbourg. Both nations are the first EU- but non NATO member nations that decided on an active cooperation within Eurocorps' multinational headquarters. On its way to become a High Readiness Force Headquarters, the Eurocorps last year has opened for participation of all European Union and NATO member nations. Already in September 2002 the NATO member nations Greece, Poland and Turkey joined the multinational headquarters with national staff, Canada will follow till August 2003. Italy will soon contribute by a liaison officer, as the Netherlands and United Kingdom already have done earlier. Together with the five original Eurocorps member nations Belgium, Germany, France, Luxemburg and Spain, Eurocorps Headquarters will henceforward involve personnel of 14 different nations.



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