Sep. 4, 2013 - By JULIAN HALE – Defense News
BRUSSELS — European Union defense ministers will meet informally in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sept. 5 and 6 to discuss two key defense policy reports ahead of a summit of EU leaders on defense in Brussels in December.
One report, by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, focuses on the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), and the other is a European Commission report aimed at creating a more competitive and efficient European security and defense sector.
Discussions on Ashton report will home in on two proposals. The first urges increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of the CSDP, and enhancing the development of defense capabilities.
Ashton’s report calls for making cyber infrastructure more secure and resilient withing the EU and elsewhere. She is also pushing for the issue of more common EU funding to be addressed by member states and wants ministers to approve a new approach to the EU’s rapid response assets, including battlegroups, in November. The latter ties in with one of Lithuania’s priorities for its six-month presidency of the European Union (June to December), namely to increase the effectiveness of EU battlegroups as a crisis management tool.
The second proposal calls on EU governments to share their plans on major projects in areas such as aerial refueling, umanned aircraft, cyber operations and satellite communications. However, no update on pooling and sharing projects is planned during the defense ministers’ meeting.
During the meeting, Lithuania stress issues that are on its EU presidency agenda, such as the development of the EU’s response to emerging challenges in the energy security, cyber, maritime and space domains. Military energy efficiency also is a particular focus for Lithuania.
During a working dinner on Thursday, ministers will be briefed by the chairman of the Military Committee and the Operation Commanders on the ongoing military CSDP operations (Althea, Atalanta, EUTM Somalia, EUTM Mali) and will discuss partnerships in the context of operations. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will attend on Thursday and has said he will discuss EU-NATO defense cooperation.
The Syria crisis is not on the agenda but is expected to be discussed. However, Syria will also be discussed by EU foreign ministers at their informal meeting Sept. 6 and 7.