Future of European Defence is discussed in Vilnius

06 September 2013, Last updated at, 11:38 EEST
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author: Alfredas Pliadis (MoND)

On 5–6 September EU Defence Ministers hold an informal meeting in Vilnius. One of the key preparatory phases of the run-up to the December European Council will address possible recommendations for the discussion on defence issues at the level of European Heads of State and Government. 

“Lithuania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union coincides with a key semester on the Common Security and Defence Policy agenda as the European Council which will meet this December will discuss future prospects of European defence after a long break,” Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas said on the eve of the meeting. “I do hope that in Vilnius we will manage to reach a common understanding with the colleagues on the discussion points and deliverables the European Heads of State and Government should produce.” 

„By agreeing to the need to debate on European security environment, I plan to draw our colleagues’ attention to the fact that the current European Security Strategy does not provide the best guidance in the rapidly changing security environment,“ Lithuanian Minister of National Defence J. Olekas said.

“I will also stress that EU cooperation with partners is very important for regional security and will urge my colleagues to focus more on EU response to the emerging security challenges, the necessity to be as flexible as possible in using EU battle groups for crisis management and seek for closer co-operation between the EU and NATO in international security area, “ Minister J. Olekas said.  

While discussing initiatives to strengthen the European defence and security sector, the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence plans putting forward possibilities to engage small and medium enterprises in European Commission support programmes. The Minister also said he would stress the importance of increasing military energy efficiency in the light of the fact that energy consumption accounts for the major part of defence budgets and increased cost of military operations.

Two documents will provide the basis for the defence ministerial in Vilnius. The first will be the interim report on the European Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The President of the European Council will be referring to the report revised at the EU Defence Ministers meeting when delivering concrete proposals at the December European Council of Defence. The second document will be the Communiqué on the European Defence and Security Sector “Towards a More Competitive and Efficient Defence and Security Sector” the European Commission released in July earlier this year.  

The informal EU Defence Ministers meeting is also expected to address issues of EU military operations, EU security partnerships the strengthening of which is one of Lithuania’s priorities of the EU Presidency.   

Approximately 350 participants are expected to take part in the informal Defence Ministers meeting in Vilnius. The meeting will be chaired by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The event will also be attended by European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier. The attendance of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also indicates the importance of the meeting agenda.  Chairman of the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) General Patrick de Rousiers, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency Claude-France Arnould, commanders of the EU operations ATALANTA, ALTHEA and training missions in Somalia and Mali will be among the participants as well. 

21 delegations of the arriving 28 member states will be led by their Defence Ministers.

In the margins of the Vilnius defence ministerial the delegations will have bilateral and multilateral meetings.

On 5 September a meeting of Defence Ministers of the United Kingdom, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden, nations contributing military personnel to the EU BG currently on standby, will meet at the National Art Gallery, the man venue for the defence ministerial.

On 6 September Minister of National Defence J. Olekas will hold bilateral meetings with Philip Hammond, UK Secretary of State for Defence, and Mario Mauro, Italian Minister of Defence in Vilnius.  

On 6 September General Sir Richard Shirreff, Operation Commander of EUFOR ALTHEA and Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) are scheduled to visit the Ministry of National Defence and meet with Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius and Vice Minister of National Defence Marijus Velička.

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