An informal EU Defence Ministers Meeting was hold in Zagreb past 4 and 5 March 2020. The meeting was hosted by the Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević and chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
First working session on common challenges and defence priorities of the EU member countries
The agenda of the first working session was discussion on defence priorities, during which the ministers exchanged views on common challenges and priorities in the upcoming period.
Minister Krstičević underlined the importance of continued implementation and consolidation of the EU defence initiatives, particularly those focussed on strengthening of defence capabilities. “It is necessary to integrate the processes, conclusions and results of the initiatives into the national defence planning processes, including the financial aspect as well“.
The Minister underlined the role of the European Defence Fund (EDF), which is expected to procure sizeable funds for research investments and the development of key EU capabilities as well as excellent opportunity for the Croatian defence industry, whose quality products have gained recognition worldwide.
Second working session on PESCO Strategic Review and strategic compass
During the second working session, the ministers discussed the Strategic “Cyber Response and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security” (PESCO) project Review and the proposal for a Strategic Compass.
The participants stressed that PESCO initiative was in the strategic review process, which is expected to provide new information aimed at improved implementation and development of new EU defence capabilities and capacities.
Concerning the need for strategic view of the future of the European defence, the ministers exchanged views on the development of a strategic document – the Compass which is envisaged as a proposal containing guidelines to the member nations for the transposition of the political level of ambition into concrete defence capabilities.
The working sessions were followed by the media conference and by media statements by the Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević and the High EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
The High EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell also confirmed that NATO is essential for the security and stability of Europe, saying: “We want to strengthen the EU-NATO cooperation, which must be complementary.” He also noted that during the meeting, the Ministers of Defence exchanged views on how to improve their own capabilities and capabilities within existing PESCO projects. Finally, he confirmed that a new initiative was also discussed today – a strategic compass that includes crisis management, capabilities, policies, protection. “The main task of this initiative will be to identify the major threats facing the European Union. What we in Europe need to do is create a common strategic culture because it is because of different histories and cultural differences that we perceive and define the threat in different ways”, Borrell said.
Multinational Divisional Command for Central Europe
On the margins of the meeting, Minister Damir Krstičević and his Hungarian colleague Tibor Benkő signed the Memorandum on the establishment of a Multinational Divisional Command for Central Europe. The Command will be based on regional cooperation between the countries of Central Europe with the intention of becoming an integral part of the NATO force structure.