Participants of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Defence Ministers’ configuration discuss the Strategic Compass and security challenges
Initially, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell reported on his recent visit to Africa, in particular on the situation in Mozambique and the Sahel. High Representative Borrell also reported on the escalating situation in Ukraine, where the tense situation on the eastern border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation and in the illegally annexed Crimea persists. The ministers endorsed the EU's efforts to resolve the crisis against Ukraine, as well as the stabilization of the situation in the Sahel.
In the discussion on the Strategic Compass and crisis management, the ministers emphasized the need to improve the efficiency and robustness of the mandates of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and missions, as well as the ways to fill the gaps in the force generation process. This brings to the forefront the tools that can potentially increase the EU's capacity to respond to crises, such as the European Peace Facility (EPF), force generation, strengthening of the EU battlegroup concept and situational awareness.
Slovenia welcomed the comprehensive review of concrete proposals to improve crisis management, taking into account the horizontal link with other domains of the Strategic Compass, i.e. resilience, capability development and partnerships. More effort needs to be devoted to the improvement of intelligence sharing, the Early Warning and Forecasting System, and more advanced planning. Slovenia's position is that the changing security environment together with the emergence of new threats dictates the need for a strengthened, more responsive and resilient, more effective CSDP operational engagement. The discussion also focused on the proposals for the improvement of command structures and links between crisis management and other Strategic Compass topics. In this respect, minister Tonin said: »Stronger Europe means safer world. That is why we have to develop capabilities, which will enable us to implement in the field what has been written down in document. The Strategic Compass will be an important milestone, a central document guiding the European Union's Common Security and Defence Policy.
During the meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, EU defence ministers discussed EU-NATO cooperation in the areas of common interest, such as the Mediterranean and the Western Balkans. Lunch participants also touched upon the current situation in Afghanistan.
On the sidelines of the ministerial meeting, a meeting of the European Defence Agency (EDA) Steering Committee was convened in the morning. The main point of the meeting agenda was the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD). Additionally, for the first time, the EU Satellite Centre Steering Committee (SatCen) in EU Defence Ministers’ configuration, chaired by High Representative Borrell, was convened. The ministers discussed the important role and further development of the SatCen in the context of EU security and defence.
After the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Minister Matej Tonin, MSc together with his Dutch and German counterparts, participated as a panellist in the symposium on military mobility organised by EDA and the Portuguese presidency. He emphasized the importance of work in the field of military mobility and of close cooperation of member states in the implementation of measures in this field, which will retain its importance during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU as well.
Military mobility is one of the numerous initiatives under the EU's new security and defence objectives and ambitions, as well as the EU-NATO cooperation measures and initiatives.
After the symposium, Minister of Defence Matej Tonin, MSc, had a short bilateral meeting with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell in light of defence-related preparations for Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU.