Brussels - 27 March, 2014 European Defence Agency
In her welcoming address at the European Defence Agency’s Annual Conference "European Defence Matters" on 27 March in Brussels, Claude-France Arnould – the Chief Executive of the EDA – outlined the importance of implementing the tasks given at the European Council in December 2013. She called on those present in the room to seize the opportunity and ensure that the implementation was there to follow the political will. She finished by calling on all participants to make the most of the conference as a unique opportunity where stakeholders from throughout the European Defence Community can meet and debate.
Cohesion, stability, and growth
The first keynote speech was delivered by Greek Minister of Defence Dimitris Avramopoulos, representing the current EU Presidency. He spoke of the importance of defence as a critical pillar for European cohesion, stability, and growth. He went on to talk about the danger of a growing arc of instability on Europe’s borders, stretching from North Africa through to Ukraine, and the need for enhanced cooperation to tackle common threats to Europe’s stability. He concluded calling for an enhanced role for the EDA to put defence more permanently on the European agenda.
Representing the upcoming Presidency of the EU, Italian Under Secretary of Defence General Domenico Rossi warned of the threats to industry and technological innovation from budget cuts. He argued that the developments of the past might not be possible with smaller defence budgets across Europe. He reinforced the importance of the EU Council in December, saying that although we may differ on ideas, when it comes to CSDP we are often on the same page.