13 May 2020

Progress at European Union level in terms of defence

At the video conference of European Union (EU) defence ministers held on 12 May 2020, an initial assessment was delivered of the European response to Covid-19 in terms of security and defence.

This video conference followed on from the previous one organised on 6 April on the initiative of France and Germany, which had highlighted the necessary mobilisation of military assets and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) tools in countering the pandemic.

Better coordination across Europe

Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, underscored the progress made since the start of the crisis in mobilising military assets to tackle the pandemic, both Europe-wide and worldwide. The dedicated team created by the European External Action Service (EEAS) following the 6 April conference has thus enhanced information sharing and should contribute to better coordination of Europeans’ responses to the crisis.

Moreover, the EU’s missions and operations are continuing for the most part, in spite of the health crisis, and still supporting local authorities in their efforts to cope with the pandemic. The Minister called for these missions to resume in full as soon as the situation allowed, not least in the Sahel.

Enhancing Europe’s independence

Over and above these immediate challenges, the conference was also an opportunity to assess the longer-term prospects, particularly in terms of strengthening Europe’s strategic independence. This is a goal that France has been advocating for several years now, and which is now even more necessary in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

Accordingly, the Minister stressed the need:
  • for an ambitious and effective CSDP. In this regard, Florence Parly praised the launch of the maritime operation IRINI, in spite of the pandemic;
  • to build and finance the military capabilities and technologies that Europe requires;
  • to maintain an ambitious budget for the European Defence Fund, which is a key instrument for supporting the defence industry and, in this way, driving economic recovery across EU nations.


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