NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen worries that EU nations are not investing enough in security, he told Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Monday. MEPs quizzed him on the 2011 operation to free Libya, developments in Syria and the EU's role in Afghanistan after the planned military withdrawal in 2014.
"We saw that European allies are lacking a number of military assets", including shortages in intelligence, surveillance and airborne refuelling capabilities, said Mr Rasmussen in reply to questions from José Ignacio Salafranca (EPP, ES), and others about the lessons to be learned from the 2011 operation to free Libya.
"EU nations must continue to invest in security smartly and also build the capability to use their investments", he added in the debate.
Otherwise, this operation was "a great success" in that "EU nations demonstrated they are willing and capable to lead NATO operations", he added.
However, "We have no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria", said Mr Rasmussen, pointing out that NATO has no UN mandate to do so, and adding that "trying to find a regional solution is a right way to move forward."
Training in Afghanistan
Many MEPs, including Maria Eleni Koppa (S&D, EL), and Charles Tannock (ECR, UK), asked about the EU's role and strategy in Afghanistan after troops are withdrawn in 2014.
"It is clear that the training mission carried out by NATO should continue after year 2014. It will be a mission that supports Afghan forces but do we need supplementary forces to protect our mission" said Mr Rasmussen, adding that this would be discussed at NATO's summit in Chicago in May. "In any event, he added, "Afghan forces will take the full responsibility for security from January 2015".
Afghanistan depends heavily on the EU support, noted Special Representative and Head of the EU delegation to Afghanistan Vygaudas Ušackas. "Improving the rights of citizens and carrying out electoral reform are EU priorities", he said, adding that the EU had already played an important role in areas such as education and security.
"We will stay in Afghanistan after 2014 and we are committed helping it. I hope that the USA will recognize our significance, as it has not always done so in the past", added Mr Ušackas.
CIA secret renditions
"Have you ever had a chance to investigate the allegations that NATO would in some way have been involved in secret renditions?", asked Sarah Ludford (ALDE, UK), a question echoed by Barbara Lochbihler (Greens/EFA, DE), with reference to a follow-up report to be drafted by Parliament on alleged CIA secret renditions in Europe.
"NATO has of course in no way been involved in illegal activities", Mr Rasmussen replied.
In the chair Elmar Brok (EPP, DE)