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EU defence ministers: defence cooperation needs to be brought to a new level

12. September 2017 - 11:02
At today's informal meeting in Tallinn, EU defense ministers discussed contributing to the security of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, the development of defense cooperation and increased financing for the defense industry (photo: Annika Haas/EU2017EE)

EU defence ministers discussed contributing to security in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, developing defence cooperation, and increased defence industry financing at their informal meeting today in Tallinn.

The consensus among the defence ministers was that sub-Saharan Africa has become a breeding ground for violent extremism and terrorism, stressing the importance of the EU’s support in the region. The region is the starting point and transit corridor for migration to the European Union.

Estonian Minister for Defence Jüri Luik said that even though Africa may be geographically distant from Estonia, what is taking place there has a direct impact on the security of Europe. The ministers admitted that the EU must provide development aid to those regions of Africa and, if necessary, organise joint missions in order to stabilise the region.

The ministers also discussed new European defence initiatives to intensify defence cooperation between EU member states so Europe’s military capabilities could grow.

“PESCO needs to be inclusive and shaped by all member states. Estonia, like many other member states around the table, expressed their readiness to bring EU defence cooperation to a new level and I strongly believe that PESCO will be possible to launch by the end of Estonia’s Presidency,” said Minister for Defence Luik.

The European Commission has decided, for the first time, to finance the defence fields of member states from the European Defence Fund through a capability development programme. Member states hope to reach to an agreement on the programme’s terms and conditions by November.

To promote the development of military capabilities, European defence expenditures will have to increase and the terms and conditions for the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) will be developed. The goal of PESCO is to support NATO. At the same time, it obligates member states to contribute to the EU’s combat unit.

The first European Union strategic cyber training exercise EU CYBRID 2017 took place at the meeting, during which the defence ministers engaged in a cyber-attack scenario. A policy guideline was discussed in the event of a cyber-attack against Europe’s military structures. The training exercise was led by Permanent Secretary Jonatan Vseviov, from the Estonian Ministry of Defence.