§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what extent he is cooperating with other European defence ministries to avoid overlapping of military resources; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Ingram
Co-operation on military capabilities is taking place within the EU and NATO and through bilateral agreements, and is a subject of regular ministerial discussion.
Within the EU, the European Capabilities Action Plan is fostering co-operation between member states to fill specific shortfalls against the Helsinki Headline 9W Goal. NATO's capabilities initiative—the Prague Capabilities Commitment—also aims to strengthen European capabilities and complements the ECAP/ Headline Goal process. We are working to ensure that EU and NATO capability development is closely co-ordinated and mutually reinforcing, most recently through agreement on a mechanism as part of the Berlin Plus arrangements, and the United Kingdom plays an active part in both. By encouraging co-operation in pursuit of agreed force goals, these two initiatives help to ensure the coherency of capabilities between member states and Allies. We also seek to maximize efficiencies through bilateral defence co-operation—for example, in our plan with France to harmonise activity cycles and training for our aircraft carriers.
§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions he has held with(a) NATO counterparts and (b) other EU member states on the EU's future role, with particular regard to (i) humanitarian and peacekeeping missions and (ii) immediate response capability; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) if he will make a statement on the relationship between the NATO Response Force and EU member states' responsibilities under the EU Headline Goals for defence-related issues. 
§ Mr. Hoon
I have regular discussions with my NATO and European Union counterparts, both bilaterally and in the framework of each organisation.
The current scope of EU Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is defined in the EU Treaty as "humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking", the so-called "Petersberg Tasks". In the Convention on the Future of Europe, the United Kingdom has proposed modernising and extending the list, to reflect the range of roles the EU should be aiming to play in crisis management and to broaden the ESDPs proactive role in wider conflict prevention, for example by adding stabilisation, conflict prevention, and defence outreach/diplomacy. Decisions on a new EU Treaty are for the Intergovernmental Conference, and these matters have not yet been discussed internationally at ministerial level.
The Headline Goal agreed at the Helsinki European Council in 1999 stated that member states should, within the overall target, "provide smaller rapid response elements available and deployable at very high readiness". This subject was recently discussed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in November 2002, at informal meetings of EU Defence Ministers in October 2002 and March 2003, and at bilateral meetings such as with the French Defence Minister in Le Touquet last month where we noted the need to improve further European capabilities in planning and deploying forces at short notice, including initial deployment of land, sea and air forces within 5–10 days.
At the NATO Summit in Prague last year, Heads of State and Government agreed to create a NATO Response Force (NRF). Further work on the NRF concept is currently being undertaken by the Military Committee in NATO, aiming to achieve an initial 10W operating capability by no later than October 2004. Each nation has a single set offerees which may be used nationally, or in NATO, EU or coalition operations, and ultimately it is up to nations to decide when and where to commit their forces. We are working to ensure that the work on NRF and on rapid response elements under the EU Headline Goal is mutually reinforcing