EU Policy Directors prepared in Vilnius for the European Council on defence issues

04 July 2013, Last updated at, 17:06 EEST
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Participants of the Meeting of the EU Defence Policy Directors | author: Alfredas Pliadis

On 3-4 July in Vilnius the EU Policy Directors engaged in a discussion over the most import EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) issues: preparations for the upcoming informal meeting of the EU Ministers of Defence in September, possible themes for discussions in the December European Council on defence issues, the EU operations and partnerships. 

The meeting focused on the European Council on defence issues scheduled to take place in the end of 2013. The EU Defence Policy Directors discussed the ongoing preparations for the high-level meeting, and the possible discussion topics leading to the key deliverables of the Council.

According to Dr. Vaidotas Urbelis, Defence Policy Director of the Ministry of National Defence, Lithuania’s expectations were that the top-level meeting of the European leaders will renew the political commitments to use the EU rapid response capabilities – EU Battlegroups (EU BG) – by decisions to further develop modular approach and enhance training, exercise and certification. A five-nation EU BG, including approx. 120 Lithuanian military personnel, entered the six-month standby on 1 July, concurrently with the opening of the Lithuanian EU Presidency. V. Urbelis also informed his colleagues that Lithuania would co-organise a seminar with the United Kingdom, the lead nation of the presently serving EU BG, on the topic of increasing the EU BG efficiency this October in London. 

The Lithuanian MoND Defence Policy Director also stated that Lithuania expect the European Council to renew the EU’ political commitments to take more responsibility as a security provider in the neighbourhood by strengthening partnership instruments and security dialogue with the countries in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods. Lithuania would also seek to include the topic of further enhancement of the EU’s ability to respond to the emerging challenges and threats, including the development of energy security dimension within the CSDP and a comprehensive energy efficiency strategy for armed forces, into the discussion of the European Heads of State and Government; to renew political commitments to further develop European defence capabilities by committing to the European Flagship projects.

When addressing the EU-led operations the EU Policy Directors agreed that was important to maintain the current tendencies and the progress achieved. According to the defence officials, the joint capacity and institution-building efforts in Somalia were bearing very practical results. Both EUTM Mali and EUTM Somalia had made significant progress over the last few months: EUTM Mali had finished the training of the first battalion; EUTM Somalia had been able to declare the initial operational capability. Operation ATALANTA, counter-piracy and armed robbery at sea efforts in Somalia and off the Somali coast, proved to be successful. Lithuania is going to debut in the operation the following month. 

In its term of the EU Presidency Lithuania will focus on the European partnerships with the Eastern neighbours and NATO. “As it was clearly underlined by a number of speakers in the seminar, only through active security and defence cooperation can the EU be effective as a security provider in the region and globally,” Dr. V. Urbelis said.

In the context of defence and security cooperation with NATO, Lithuania will seek NATO and the EU to use the available resources efficiently to complement to each other’s capability. 

28 Defence Policy Directors of the EU member states, representatives of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission, and the European Defence Agency (EDA) attended the meeting which took place at the National Art Gallery, Vilnius. Assistant Secretary General of NATO for Defence Policy and Planning Ambassador Hüseyin Diriöz was also among the participants of the meeting. 

Informal meetings of the EU Defence Policy Directors are held biannually in the host country of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The rotating Presidency was passed from Ireland to Lithuania on 1 July. 

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