EU must guarantee security to its citizens, warns Defence Subcommittee Chair  

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  • Efficiency to be encompassed in future defence spending 
  • Europe needs a common strategy culture 

“We need to ask ourselves: What can strengthen EU resilience and sovereignty?”, Security and Defence Subcommittee chair Nathalie Loiseau told EU foreign policy chief Borrell.

Europe’s economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis will be costly, but it should not be at the expense of the EU’s security, said High Representative and Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell at an extraordinary meeting of Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) on Tuesday.

Efficiency will have to be encompassed in future defence spending, warned the EU foreign policy chief, adding that the EU cannot lower the level of its ambition in defence. Armed forces have been playing an important role in helping authorities to fight COVID-19, he added at the meeting on the effects of the crisis on Europe’s security, which was also attended by members and the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET).

Security for citizens and strategic autonomy

Concerning the much-needed resilience in security and defence, Europe needs a “strategic compass”, a common strategy culture, said Mr Borrell.

Defence Subcommittee Chair Nathalie Loiseau (Renew, FR) agreed with him, pointing out that the EU has to be able to guarantee security to its citizens.

“The crisis has revealed our vulnerability and the fact that Europe's strategic autonomy is even more necessary today than yesterday. We need to protect ourselves better, in a more coordinated and stronger way against the next threat, be it viral, cyber or other. We need to ask ourselves: ‘What can strengthen the EU's resilience and sovereignty: what objectives and means do we want today to strengthen the strategic autonomy of Tomorrow, and ensure the security of our citizens?´”, she said.

While praising the fact that several initiatives have been taken since the EU Global Strategy was launched in 2016, such as the European Defence Fund, Military Mobility, the European Peace Facility and PESCO, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister (EPP, DE) stressed that it is crucial for the EU to do more in defence policy. He expressed concern regarding announced cuts to funds for projects like Military Mobility. Both chairs expressed their hope that the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) would include adequate funding for all the measures needed for a strong security and defence policy.

MEPs asked Mr Borrell questions on a range of issues, from migration and transatlantic security to relations with China and the situation in Libya and Kosovo.

On Kosovo, the High Representative said that cooperation between the authorities of Kosovo and Serbia in fighting COVID-19 has been a good sign, and announced that the Commission is working on the technical one-year-extension of EULEX, the EU mission in Kosovo whose mandate finishes in June.

Josep Borrell also emphasised the importance of CSDP missions and operations, which have been temporarily reduced but still kept their presence during the pandemic, announcing that preparations are underway for a coordinated and timely return of its personnel.

You can watch the full debate here.