However, we do have some guiding principles. The Government believes that the ability of Europeans to act together where the United States and the Alliance as a whole do not operate should be strengthened, building on existing agreements on European security and defence identity. But the alliance will remain the basis of our collective defence and will be the instrument of choice if the Europeans and the Americans want to act together. We also want to avoid unnecessary duplication: new European efforts should strengthen both the CFSP and the European contribution to NATO and, therefore, to NATO as a whole. And we want to ensure that other European countries are actively involved in the process by recognizing the existing positions of WEU observers, associate members and associated partners. The different situations of countries with regard to NATO must be respected. To do so, the Government believes that the EU must develop the right political will and instruments to make decisions and act quickly and effectively to achieve common goals. The Treaty of Amsterdam will create new instruments of the CFSP, but the Europeans must also improve our capacity to act and develop defence capabilities capable of dealing with future crises, as we do in the context of the strategic defence review. The Prime Minister opened a debate on European defence and security issues at the informal EU summit in Portschach, Austria, on 24-25 October 1998. The Government believes that the European Union needs a more united and influential voice in global policy, faster and more coherently through the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and that the development of the security and defence dimension within the EU would strengthen its capabilities and image. In order to enable the European Union to take decisions and authorise military action if the alliance as a whole is not active, it is necessary to give the Union adequate structures and a capacity for analysis of situations, knowledge and a relevant strategic planning capacity, without duplication, taking into account the existing assets of the WEA and the evolution of its relations with the EU. In this regard, the European Union will also have to resort to appropriate military means (European capabilities defined within the framework of NATO`s European pillar or national or multinational European funds outside the NATO framework).
The Committee requested a note on the impact of the declaration on European defence made at the British French summit in Saint-Malo on 3 and 4 December 1998.