Chaired by High representative Federica Mogherini, the Defence Foreign Affairs Council discussed the on-going measures for the enhancement of EU military capability development and the strengthening of the defence industry. The meeting also posed a basis for discussion in view of the next European Council.
EU Defence Ministers met on 18th November 2014 to discuss cooperation on military capabilities, the implementation of the December 2013 European Council Conclusions as well as the way forward in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The meeting was chaired by High Representative Federica Mogherini. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also attended the meeting.
In its conclusions, the Defence Ministers underlined that “Europe’s security environment is evolving significantly, rapidly and dramatically. Ongoing conflicts and instability in our immediate and wider neighbourhood, such as in Iraq, Libya, the Sahel, Syria and Ukraine, remain a particular cause for great concern”. The Ministers reiterated that the EU and its Member States need “to assume increased responsibilities to act as a security provider, at the international level and in particular in the neighbourhood, thereby also enhancing their own security and their global strategic role by responding to these challenges together.”
At the press conference in the aftermath of the meeting, High Representative Federica Mogherini stated that “it’s now almost one year after the European Council in December 2013 discussed about European Defence and we have the European Council next June that is planned on security and defence. We started with the Ministers’ work that I will then lead in the coming months coordinating strictly with President Tusk, with Member States and with the Commission”.
The EU Defence Ministers invited Federica Mogherini to assess the impact of changes in the European Neighbourhood as well as in the global environment and to report back in view of the European Council in June 2015.
The Council welcomes the deployment, in 2014, of the CSDP military bridging operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR RCA), the civilian CSDP mission in Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine) as well as the progress made towards launching a civilian mission in Mali (EUCAP SAHEL Mali). In the Conclusions the Defence Ministers welcomed also to the ongoing action by the other nine civilian CSDP missions and four military CSDP operations in crisis theatres.
In light of the need to enable partner countries and regional organisations to prevent and manage crises by themselves, the Ministers invited the High Representative and the Commission to present a “joint proposal for a policy approach for concrete implementation”. This proposal will serve as a base for discussion for the Council in June 2015.
The Foreign Affairs Council adopted the EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework as well a policy framework for Systematic and Long-Term Defence cooperation among EU Member States. The Ministers also agreed on the Progress catalogue 2014, which provides an assessment of the critical military shortfalls resulting from the Headline Goal process and their impact on the Common Security and Defence Policy.
In view of the Council in 2015, the Defence Ministers encourage action in a number of fields, among them the implementation of EU’s Comprehensive Approach before the end of the first quarter of 2015, the implementation of the EU Maritime Security Strategy, the support to border management in the Sahel-Saharian region and the identification by the EDA of opportunities of cooperation on defence capabilities.
The Council conclusions approved on 18th November 2014 constitute the guidelines for EDA for its work in 2015. In view of the European Council in 2015 the Commission, the High representative and the EDA are invited to report on progress and provide input by April 2015.
Watch the Press Conference by HRVP Federica Mogherini following the Foreign Affairs Council: