Visio-conférence des ministres européens de la défense
Les ministres européens de la défense ont participé à une visio-conférence le 12 mai 2020.
Visio-conférence des ministres européens de la défense : Conférence de presse du Haut représentant, Josep Borrell (12 mai 2020)
Today we had the second videoconference with the European Union Defence Ministers in just 6 weeks. The newly appointed Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, Mr [Jiri] Sedivy, was with us for the first time.
Our discussion focused today on the security and defence implications of the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past months, we have seen that armed forces have been playing a crucial role in addressing the pandemic, by supporting civilian actors and providing cross-border support among Member States. There are many examples of that.
The Task Force that we established within the European Union Military Staff after our last meeting on 6 April has been working closely with Member States to gather examples of best practices and ensure exchange of information and lessons learned from each other.
As we face a global crisis, cooperation with partners is essential. This is why I have invited two of our closest security and defence partners to take part in our discussion today. NATO’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, and the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, provided us with a very useful update on ongoing work in their organisations and the way we can increase our cooperation.
It is clear that this crisis will have far-reaching implications for our societies, for our economies, but also for our security and defence policy. Together with Member States, we have started to identify and discuss concrete lessons and strategic implications of the pandemic paving the way for the future of our security and defence policy.
There was a broad consensus that we should act along several axis :
First, to reinforce the modalities for the use of military assets to support civilian authorities in response to the pandemic. The armed forces, in different areas of expertise - security, medical and logistic - have provided and continue to provide a vital help in the fight against the spread of the virus.
This is why, for the first time since the Ebola crisis in 2014, the European Union Movement Planning Cell, within the European Union Military Staff, has been activated. This will allow to request European Union Member States’ military support to transport medical and humanitarian supplies at the request of the Emergency Rescue Coordination Centre [ERCC]. It will also allow responding to requests for support from our partners, such as the United Nations. There are several of these requests underway.
Second, we will continue to do our utmost to maintain our operational presence on the ground. While the safety of our personnel deployed in our Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations remains a priority, we need to ensure that the missions and operations continue to deliver on their tasks to the extent possible, and explore ways to support our partners in tackling the pandemic. We agreed that the redeployment of personnel on the ground should take place in a coordinated manner as soon as conditions allow.
Third, we need to strengthen our own preparedness and resilience for the future. To this end, we can for instance conduct exercises, strengthen our work on cybersecurity or countering hybrid threats and enhance our efforts to counter disinformation, including related to the coronavirus. Intentional and coordinated disinformation campaigns - as we have seen - are real threats to European and global security.
Fourth, the lessons learnt from this crisis should be an additional driver for capability development and defence cooperation. There is a growing demand for military assistance in support of civilian response in the context of the health crisis. Some ongoing PESCO [Permanent Structured Cooperation] projects can play a role here and we will explore new areas of cooperation within this framework.
Finally, as this crisis also hits our economy, we need to secure the necessary funding for security and defence, both in Member States and at EU level. The pandemic will very likely deteriorate or security environment in the years to come. That is clear. The pandemic will be a new threat and will deteriorate our security environment. This will only increase the need for a stronger European Union security and defence, and for a stronger Union in the world.
We will continue working on all these important issues and we will revert to this during our next meeting in June.
After having explained what was discussed during this Council, I am ready to take your questions now./.