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In the News
Last Updated: 12/15/2003
EU defence and NATO

*Much to the dismay of the USA, Britain-Germany-France reveal talks about military independence from NATO. *Meanwhile Lord Roberston gets ready to leave NATO for private business (deputy chairman of Cable and Wireless), while the Secretary-General elect, foreign minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer from the Netherlands, prepares to take over.



In the last two or three weeks Britain, France and Germany have been dallying with an alternative defence arrangement to NATO


29 November


Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has backed Prime Minister Tony Blair's agreement with France and Germany to boost EU defence capabilities.

Speaking in Naples on Saturday (29 November 2003), Mr Straw denied the plans represented a threat to the pre-eminence of Nato.


2 December

The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, made a conspicuous effort yesterday to avoid a damaging row over Europe's controversial military ambitions.

In what was seen as a surprisingly subdued appearance in Brussels, Mr Rumsfeld said he had been convinced that Nato's European members would not undertake initiatives that would duplicate the work of the alliance.

The US is worried about plans brokered by Britain to create a 30-strong EU "planning cell" attached to military staff in Brussels, and for an EU "mutual defence guarantee".

Britain, negotiating with France and Germany on defence issues in the new union constitution, is adamant that the facility would be used only if Nato or national headquarters were not involved in a crisis.,3604,1097703,00.html


3 December

After all the debate, secret briefings and public evasions of the past week, the nature of the European Union's defence plans remain as baffling as ever.





The new head if NATO is third Dutchman in the post


Jakob Gijsbert (Jaap) de Hoop Scheffer was born in Amsterdam on 3 April 1948. After completing his secondary education, he studied law at Leiden University, graduating in 1974. From 1974 to 1976 he performed his military service in the Royal Netherlands Air Force and was discharged as a reserve officer.

From 1976 to 1986, he was employed in the Foreign Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After receiving diplomatic training, he worked as assistant press secretary at the Ministry. From 1976 to 1978, he served at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Accra (Ghana) as Secretary. He then worked at the Permanent Delegation to NATO in Brussels until 1980, where he was responsible for issues relating to defence planning. He was Private Secretary to four successive Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Van der Klauw, Van der Stoel, Van Agt and Van den Broek) until 1986.

Mr De Hoop Scheffer was elected to the House of Representatives of the States General for the Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA) in June 1986. He became the party’s spokesperson on foreign policy (as well as asylum and refugee policy and European justice matters) in the House and served on the Permanent Committees on Justice, European Affairs and Defence. From 1989 to 1994 he chaired the Permanent Committee on Development Cooperation. Later he headed the CDA representatives in the House until 2001.




Lord George and the private sector


Lord George Robertson, a Scot and former Labour Party politician in the UK, leaves after four years of masterminding NATO expansion eastward and overseeing the first NATO peace-keeping force in Europe (Macedonia). He takes up the post of deputy Chairman of Cable and Wireless, a major telecommunications multinational based in the UK. He will be responsible for overseeing and developing relationships with the foreign governments in the countries where CW operates. Something of a change from the whisky industry a former key concern of his.


George Robertson was Member of Parliament for Hamilton (latterly Hamilton South) from 1978 to 1999. On 24 August 1999 he received a life peerage and took the title Lord Robertson of Port Ellen. He became Secretary of State for Defence in May 1997, until his departure in October 1999. In August 1999, he was selected to be the next Secretary General of NATO, in succession to Dr Javier Solana. 

He was a full time official of the General, Municipal and Boilermakers' Union (GMB) responsible for the Scottish Whisky industry from 1968-1978. Now one of his colleagues at C&W will be Richard Lapthorne, a former finance director of aerospace group BAE Systems, who is chairman and hoping to do something about the withdrawal of C&W from the US and the loss of £6.53 billion loss last year.

For official biography, see: