ZAGREB, Aug 27, 2020 – Croatian Defence Minister Mario Banozic attended an informal meeting of the European Union member states’ defence ministers, which took place in Berlin on Wednesday, within Germany’s presidency of the Council of the EU, the Croatian ministry stated in a press release.
It was the first physical ministerial meeting at the EU level since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the participants discussed EU’s operational commitments as part of operations and missions of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
The importance of cooperation with NATO and the United Nations was highlighted.
Minister Banozic spoke about the importance of efforts of the EU and NATO to keep their focus on and coordinate their activities in southeastern Europe, which is additionally exposed to security challenges and hybrid threats due to the circumstances marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He called for more efforts to be invested in making it more visible how much the European Union contributes to the stability and security of the bloc’s neigbourhood in the southeast.
Also on the agenda was the new Strategic Compass, which is expected to give the EU a common strategic direction. In an initial step, a common threat analysis will be conducted during the German Council Presidency, which is a first at European level, according to the information provided on the website of the German EU Presidency.
The framework document on the Strategic Compass was on the agenda of the EU defence ministers’ meeting in Zagreb in early March when Croatia chaired the Council of the EU.
Minister Banozic expressed confidence that the Strategic Compass can contribute to the understanding of the role of the European Union in the changing geopolitical environment and to strengthening the complementary defence capabilities and cooperation.
The meeting also revolved around PESCO, which is the Permanent Structured Cooperation, established in December 2017 to raise cooperation on defence among the participating EU Member States to a new level.
Also discussed was the European Defence Fund, which is expected to foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base and contribute to the EU’s strategic autonomy.
The fund will have an important role in developing the EU defence abilities and can help SMEs that do business in the defence industry, to be more engaged in those efforts, reads the ministry’s press release.