On 15 November, EU foreign affairs and defence ministers sitting in a joint session exchanged views on the first draft of the EU Strategic Compass, which is due to provide clear political-strategic guidance on the EU approach to security and defence in the next 5 to 10 years, and step up the EU’s role as global security provider.
Building on a comprehensive threat analysis, the Strategic Compass sets out concrete measures and related timelines for action, covering a wide spectrum of instances ranging from the Common Security and Defence Policy, to cyber and hybrid threats, disinformation, capability development and partnerships.
There was a broad support from on the document. Ministers expressed their willingness to work on it with a view to the adoption of the final Compass in March 2022.
The High Representative stressed that member states had supported the approach on defence capabilities, addressing hybrid challenges and engaging with partners. Ministers underlined that the EU approach had to be complementary with and beneficial to NATO, avoiding duplication on both sides and ensuring coherence.
On 16 November, EU defence ministers were briefed by the High Representative, Josep Borrell, about current affairs, thereby reviewing a number of recent developments.
First the Council was updated about operation EUFOR Althea, following the recent mandate renewal by the UN Security Council. The Council has recently adopted a measure under the European Peace Facility through which the EU will deliver 68 medical and transport vehicles and 150 metal detectors to help Bosnia and Herzegovina be fully mine free by 2027.
Ministers were also informed about the steps that will be taken to use the Coordinated Maritime Presences concept beyond the Gulf of Guinea. A new specific maritime area of interest could be established in the Indo-Pacific as early as next year.
The Council then touched on progress made in the area of Military Mobility, where there have been concrete steps on regulatory issues and infrastructures, and discussed Belarus. On the latter the High Representative stressed that this was not a migration crisis and that the EU would respond with all tool at its disposal.
EU Training missions
The Council exchanged views on the four EU Training Missions in Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Mozambique, and possible ways to improve their effectiveness.
The Council adopted a decision updating the list of projects to be undertaken under the EU permanent structured cooperation (PESCO). As a result, 14 new projects will be added to the list of the 46 existing ones that have been developed under PESCO since December 2017.
Over an informal working lunch, ministers exchanged views with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on new areas for EU-NATO cooperation, such as resilience, climate and defence, and emerging and disruptive technologies. It was agreed to work on a new Joint Declaration on EU-NATO cooperation in the coming months.
European Defence Agency Steering Board
The European Defence Agency’s (EDA) ministerial steering board met before the Council meeting to approve the Agency’s 2022 general budget of €38 million, and discuss the agency’s mandate to negotiate an administrative arrangement with the US Department of Defence, and how to reinforce EDA’s role in fostering defence innovation.