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European Union Ministers of Defence discussed effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Common Security and Defence Policy

On May 12 Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis took part in a European Union Defence Ministers’ video conference held to assess potential long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the area of security and defence and the situation on the ground in the European Union-led international operations and training missions.

The EU Ministers of Defence focussed on the potential long-term impact of the pandemic on the defence commitments and cooperation of member states in the conditions of economic downturn and shifting geopolitical environment.

The majority of Ministers pointed out very similar defence policy priorities that would be underlined by the pandemic and the potential economic stagnation. “The health crisis in Europe has not made the risk from traditional security threats smaller and also demonstrated the importance of the support that the armed forces are in pandemic management, therefore we have to ensure continued proper defence financing, R.Karoblis said. He also underscored the importance of fulfilling transatlantic commitments on defence spending and urged NATO and European institutions to convey to member states the invitation to secure sufficient defence financing in a coordinated and clear manner.

R. Karoblis also stressed that the crisis had brought the importance of military mobility to the surface, as exemplified by the efficient use of military logistical capabilities to transport the necessities for managing the COVID crisis when country borders were being chaotically closed. “Unobstructed movement of military capabilities needs harmonised military transit procedures and adjusted infrastructure, that is why proper EU financing to infrastructure development projects aimed at facilitation of better military mobility in Europe has to be secured,” Lithuanian Minister of National Defence reiterated.

Ministers agreed at the video conference that strategic communication as well as readiness of European institutions to debunk disinformation and take down attempts to diminish the European response and cooperation in the face of the crisis needed to be improved.

The EU Defence Ministers’ video conference was also joined by NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg and UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations J.-P. Lacroix.

It was the second remote meeting of EU Defence Ministers to address the COVID-19 crisis. The first one was held in the beginning of April.

Photo credits: Giedrė Maksimovicz (MoD)

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