Minister stresses military role in EU’s COVID-19 response
Defence – European Union/COVID-19/security and defence/European Union defence ministers’ meeting – Communiqué issued by the Ministry for the Armed Forces
Paris, 12 May 2020
The European Union defence ministers had a video conference today to take into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the European security and defence agenda.
Following the informal meeting of EU defence ministers held on France and Germany’s initiative on 6 April, at which emphasis was placed on the necessary mobilization of military resources and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) tools to combat the pandemic, today’s meeting provided the opportunity to make an initial assessment of the European response in terms of security and defence.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly stressed the progress made since the beginning of the crisis in mobilizing military resources to support the fight against the pandemic, both on European territory and worldwide. For example, the task force created by the European External Action Service (EEAS) following the 6 April meeting enabled information to be shared more effectively and should contribute to increased coordination between Europeans’ responses to the crisis.
Moreover, EU missions and operations, despite the health crisis situation, are continuing for the most part and still supporting local authorities in their efforts to cope with the pandemic. The Minister called for these missions’ activities to return to normal as soon as the situation allows, especially in the Sahel.
Beyond these immediate challenges, the meeting allowed us to adopt a more long-term outlook, focusing among other things on strengthening Europe’s strategic autonomy. This is an objective France has upheld for several years and which the COVID-19 crisis makes even more necessary.
The Minister emphasized the need for an ambitious, effective CSDP. In this respect, the Minister welcomed the launch of the maritime operation IRINI, despite the pandemic. The Minister also emphasized the need to develop and finance the military capabilities and technology Europe needs. Finally, Florence Parly called for an ambitious budget to be maintained for the European Defence Fund, which will be a key instrument for bolstering the defence industry and therefore supporting the economic recovery of all the European Union countries./.