EU: European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) to be launched in Italy on 19 January

Support our work: become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.

- and EU discussing the creation of cross-border law enforcement "Special Task Forces"

On 19 January 2005 the EU Gendarmerie Force (EGF) involving para-military police forces from Italy, Spain, France, Holland and Portugal will be launched in Vicenza (Veneto), Italy. Vicenza is the seat of Camp Ederle - the third largest US base in Italy.

The proposal was put forward at an informal meeting of Ministers of Defence in Rome on 3-4 October 2003 by the then French Minister of Defence, Michelle Alliot-Marie. The "Declaration of Intent" between the five states was signed "in the margins" (ie: outside of the formal proceedings) at another informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers in Noordwijk, Netherlands on 17 September 2004. In a speech to this meeting Mr Solana, the EU's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, said he welcomed the establishment of the European Gendarmerie Force "covering activities such as security and public order missions".

The EGF involves the French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri, the Portuguese Guardia Nacional Republicana, the Dutch Royal Marechausee and the Spanish Civil Guard.

The idea of creating an para-military police force in the EU capable of acting within and outside has been part of the planning for its military role. It was the EU Council at Santa Maria da Feira on 19-20 June 2000, when considering the creation of the mechanisms for "non-military crises management", which agreed that EU states would "cooperate voluntarily":

"to provide up to 5,000 police officers for international missions across the range of conflict prevention and crisis management operations. Member States have also undertaken to be able to identify and deploy up to 1,000 police officers within 30 days."

See: Global policing role for EU (Statewatch News Online: December 2000

However, a follow-up report (13831/01, 12 November 2001) showed only five member states (France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Finland) were prepared to make commitments.

Perhaps more relevant was a meeting in Paris of officers from paramilitary units in France (F), Italy (I), Spain (E) and Portugal (P) on 25-26 January 2000. The F.I.E.P. meeting agreed on the need for a "European security and investigation force" (FESI). The model for FESI units would be the "Multinational Special Units" (MSU) developed by NATO and implemented by the Arma dei Carabinieri. The units would have a capability for: "intelligence, general surveillance, judicial police and maintaining order". In what are called "peace support operations" the units could carry out "preventive and repressive" actions" because:

"Paramilitary police forces offer, above all else, the capability for the restoration of public order where the absence of any state legitimacy reigns. They have the required expertise and capability to engage in deteriorated situations as a component of armed forces."

An article by a Spanish officer (Enrique Esquivel Lalinde, Lieutenant Commander, May 2005, Link to article) gives more detail on the intended role of the EGF as the "Declaration of Intent" has not been published.

The key elements are that the EGF can operate inside and outside the EU. Its HQ in Vicenza will have a staff of 30 with around 800 "troops" available within 30 days. The para-military force will work under a High Level Inter-Ministry Committee (HLIMC) drawn from Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defence. This will provide "political and military coordination" - including the appointment of the Commander and agreeing Guidelines.

Under the heading of "Security and public order" the roles of the EGF include: public surveillance, border control, general intelligence, criminal investigation, and the "maintenance of public order in the event of disturbances".

Schengen: EU discussing creation

Our work is only possible with your support.
Become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.


Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error