The Future of ESDP: The British Position and Expectations for Austria
erschienen in der Publikation "The Future of ESDP" - November 2005
British Expectations of Austria
The British armed forces have worked successfully with Austrian peacekeepers in places such as the Balkans. However, given that Austria is not a member of NATO, and that Austrian defence policy is formed in a very different political environment to that of Britain, nor does it have extensive military assets, the UK would not be surprised if Austria did not participate in 'structured co-operation'. Although the UK would prefer for all EU member-states - including Austria - to participate if at all possible.
The British want the capability criteria for entry into 'structured co-operation' to match those for the NATO response force as much as possible. Thus, the criteria should emphasise above all deployability; sustainability; effective engagement; force protection; and C4ISR. From a British perspective it would seem to be difficult for Austria to participate in 'structured co-operation', which aims to give the EU a robust high-end intervention capability. Austria still has conscript troops - which tend not to be very useful for external missions -, very few elite or special forces, although Austria does have some air transport and air combat assets.
This is not to say that Britain would not value the input of Austrian soldiers in EU peacekeeping mis-sions - where they have already acquitted themselves well. Britain, in fact would look to Austria to be a contributor to EU peacekeeping missions. However, if Austria wishes to participate in 'structured co-operation', and therefore in high-end EU military missions, from a British perspective perhaps Austria should consider co-operating with its EU neighbours, like the Czech Republic and Hungary, to develop a multinational force formation for EU high-end missions. That way Austria could participate in 'struc-tured co-operation'.
Finally, there is an understanding in London that Austria may be also constrained - especially in what types of missions Austria can undertake, such as high-end military interventions - by the way its defence policy is shaped by domestic politics, and its policy of non-alignment. Britain, as a member of NATO, and with a very different political-military culture and tradition does not face such political con-straints. However, even if Austria could not participate in 'structured co-operation' in the beginning (whether it be 2007 or later), the hope in London would be that Austria would have enough incentive to participate at a later stage.