The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, attended on 19 May the meeting of the EU Military Committee in the format of Chiefs of Defence. The meeting was an opportunity to highlight the most important developments in the area of security and defence since their last meeting in November 2020.
The number of emerging crises and new security threats is growing. Cyber, space, new technologies, climate change and other trends are having profound security and geo-political consequences. This requires the EU to do more and to do more together. As the demand for EU engagement is rising, its supply must keep pace.
In this context, the High Representative/Vice-President and the EU Chiefs of Defence discussed the Strategic Compass, in particular aspects related to the EU’s operational engagement. He underlined the need for the European Union to take decisions faster and ensure that EU missions and operations have the necessary means to make a difference on the ground. Discussions are ongoing to identify concrete incentives that could help Member States to contribute more to EU missions and operations, for example with “early force sensing”, more transparency in the troop rotation, or commitments within the PESCO framework.
Second, the High Representative/Vice-President raised the need for more flexibility, for instance by building on the good example of the ‘Coordinated Maritime Presences’ and by looking at finding more synergies between EU missions and operations and European ad-hoc coalitions, such as the Task Force Takuba in the Sahel or Operation Agenor in the Strait of Hormuz.
Third, Josep Borrell underlined the need to be better prepared for future crises with trained, equipped and available forces when necessary. The idea of an initial-entry force for certain scenarios could be further explored in this context.
The High Representative/Vice-President also stressed that, in line with the Strategic Compass approach, we need to enhance our capability to promote technological sovereignty and innovation, and that we need to strengthen our resilience.
The High Representative/Vice-President and the EU Chiefs of Defence also referred to the positive developments in the context of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), notably those related to third states’ participation in PESCO projects, and called for more concrete results in light of the upcoming fourth wave of new projects to be adopted in autumn 2021. Finally, Josep Borrell also underlined that cooperation with partners, notably the UN and NATO, needs to be enhanced. He stressed that EU-NATO cooperation remained a key element of the EU’s security and defence agenda and was particularly relevant as both organisations advance in their respective reflection processes – the Strategic Compass and NATO 2030.