On 21 October, EU defense ministers held the final debate before the mid-November presentation of the Strategic Compass project, which will set out policy guidelines for the development of European defense and security over the next decade. The ministers discussed some of the options that have emerged in recent months, such as creating a rapid reaction force, dealing with hybrid threats, developing critical capabilities and deepening the EU’s strategic partnership with NATO.
“Recent events force us to further develop our capacity and willingness to act. For this, we need a common sense of the threats we face and a set of concrete actions to address them together. This is exactly what the Strategic Compass is about. “If there is enough political will, next year will be a turning point for European defense,” said Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
“Afghanistan has shown that we lack the critical skills with which we can play a greater role in resolving the situation in cooperation with NATO. We need to find solutions to speed up decision-making. Therefore, Slovenia supports concrete proposals in this regard. ”Minister of Defense Matej Tonin.
The defense ministers reiterated that the EU must respond more quickly to crises, especially in the immediate area but also beyond. A rapid response force is one of the options being discussed, as well as mechanisms that allow for faster decision-making within existing contractual provisions and more financial solidarity.
As part of the debate on strengthening resilience to complex crises, ministers discussed the need for a hybrid toolbox and emergency measures to counter the malicious activities of various hybrid actors. They referred to the importance of ensuring our access to strategic areas such as cyberspace, marine space and outer space.
The Ministers also discussed the development of key capabilities in line with the six focused areas of the Coordinated Annual Defense Review (CARD). Capacity building should focus mainly on skills that directly minimize shortcomings and increase the EU’s strategic autonomy. Some of the top priority areas are strategic take-off, air fuel, early warning system, strategic forecasting and intelligence capabilities.
Participants expressed the need to strengthen and expand cooperation between the EU and NATO, especially now that both organizations are reflecting on their strategies – the EU Strategic Compass and the NATO Strategic Concept. The ministers welcomed the idea of adopting a third EU-NATO declaration by the end of this year, which should be seen as a clear political sign of our strategic partnership.
This ministerial workshop, co-organized by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European External Action Service (EEAS), concludes the strategic dialogue phase that began in February. The High Representative / Vice President will present a first draft of the Strategic Compass at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in November. Member States are expected to adopt the final version in March next year.