Defense ministers discuss EU’s military integration and cooperation

The European Union’s defense ministers met in Tallinn’s Creative Hub on Thursday to discuss defense cooperation and spending as well as the EU’s contribution to security at the Horn of Africa and in the Sahel. They also took part in a cyberdefense exercise.

The consensus among the defense ministers was that sub-Saharan Africa has become a breeding ground for violent extremism and terrorism. The ministers stressed the importance of the EU’s support in the region, which is also a starting point and transit corridor for migrants on their way to the EU - writes err.ee.

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (IRL) said at a joint press conference with EU foreign policy high representative Federica Mogherini that what is happening in Africa has a direct impact on the security of Europe. The ministers agreed that the EU needed to provide development aid to these regions of the continent and where necessary set up joint missions in order to stabilise them.

The ministers also discussed the European defense initiatives aimed to improve cooperation between EU member states. Commenting on the union’s efforts to establish a permanent structured cooperation between members, referred to in Brussels lingo as PESCO, Luik said that these efforts needed to carried by as many member states as possible and expressed hope that by the end of Estonia’s presidency of the Council of the European Union work could be taken up within this new framework.

To support the integration of member states’ armed forces, the EU Commission has recently decided to finance different activities of member states’ defense efforts through a capability development program of the European Defence Fund. The conditions of the funding are currently being negotiated, a preliminary goal for an agreement is November this year.

As with further integration of defense aims and activities military spending is expected to increase across the union, PESCO requires detailed terms that regulate both the funding out of the EU’s coffers as well as the strategic cooperation between member states. Apart from developing the union’s own defensive capabilities, PESCO will also support NATO.

On Thursday the ministers also participated in a two-hour cyberdefense exercise. Developed by the Estonian Ministry of Defence in cooperation with the European Defence Agency and the European Union’s network and information security agency, ENISA, the exercise simulated a cyberattack on organizations in the EU (ERR News reported).

Read more news of Tallinn here.

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