Terrorism, trafficking and smuggling, hybrid threats by state and non-state actors and other threats and challenges are directly affecting our internal security and often feed off the crises and instability in the regions surrounding Europe. "For most Europeans security is a top priority today" says High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini. The EU has taken action to respond. It will become a stronger actor on the international scene to promote peace and security in its neighbourhood and beyond. HR/VP Mogherini has set out how to achieve this in a strategy ("A Global Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy") adopted in June 2016. The three interlinked decisions on security and defence are turning this vision into concrete actions.
Ministers on 14 November agreed on a new level of ambition in security and defence. It focuses on three priorities: enabling the European Union to respond more comprehensively, rapidly and effectively to crises, in particular in our neighbourhood; helping to make our partners stronger when it comes to their security and defence; and strengthening the European Union's capacity to protect European citizens, by working more closely together on security. To fulfil these goals, Ministers also agreed to a range of actions to strengthen civilian and military capabilities, as well as EU security and defence structures and tools.
The European Defence Action Plan was adopted by the European Commission on 30 November 2016. It comprises a European Defence Fund and other actions to help Member States boost research and spend more efficiently on joint defence capabilities, thus fostering a competitive and innovative defence industrial base and contributing to enhance European citizens' security.
The Council of the European Union and Foreign Ministers of NATO adopted in parallel on 6 December a common set of proposals for EU-NATO cooperation. This follows from the Joint Declaration signed by EU leaders and the NATO Secretary General last July. The set of actions comprises 42 concrete proposals for implementation in seven areas of cooperation. EU-NATO cooperation is thus taken to a new level, at a moment when facing common challenges together is more important than ever.
Work on implementing the security and defence package has been progressing at a fast pace. EU Member States agreed to establish a first Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) that took over command of the EU training missions within the EU Military Staff on 08 June 2016.
They also agreed to work on the governance of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO): one of the provisions of the treaties that has never been put in place on security and defence, which allows groups of countries which wish to do so to take forward their cooperation.
Work is also ongoing to remove the financial obstacles to the deployment of the EU Battlegroups, which are rapid response forces designed to perform military tasks of a humanitarian or peacekeeping nature. The European Defence Fund was launched in June 2017 to support Member States in their efforts of more efficient defence expenditure, less duplication and better value for money. A Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence by 2025 was published also in June, opening a public debate on the future direction of defence in an EU of 27. Meanwhile, EU- NATO cooperation has also made significant progress in the seven areas agreed as outlined in the joint EU-NATO report of June 2017.
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: "We are moving fast and forward on security in the European Union. We have come a long way in less than one year and we are determined to keep this pace."
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