On 6 March the European Council approved the establishment of a Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC). In charge of the planning and execution of non-combatant military missions within the European Union (EU) Military Staff, this new structure is intended to improve the “EU’s capacity to react in a faster, more effective and more seamless manner,” the Council said in a statement.
While activation of the MPCC remains a symbolic gesture in the quest for European defence and security cooperation, it nevertheless indicates that “we are progressing steadily towards strengthened defence cooperation,” said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, adding that “we will continue to do more.”
Once implemented, this structure will allow commanders to focus on the tactical aspect of their missions, while entrusting strategic planning, monitoring, and other issues to the MPCC. It will work in close synergy with its existing civilian counterpart, the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC). So no organisational revolution, but nevertheless a great advance for those commanders who will spend less time flying between Africa and Belgium.
In particular, MPCC will lead training missions in Mali (EUTM Mali), the Central African Republic (EUTM RCA) and Somalia (EUTM Somalia). This structure will be headed by the current Director General of the European Military Staff, Finnish Lieutenant-General Esa Pukkinen, who has been in office since May 2016. His work will be under the control of the Political and Security Committee (PSC), composed of the ambassadors of the Member States.
The creation of European military command tools was, until last year, regularly vetoed by the British. But Brexit, the terrorist threat and pressure from across the Channel following the election of Donald Trump have provided grist to the mill of demands by Berlin and Paris.