Inter-parliamentary conference on the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy – 4 September 2020, BerlinND DEFENCE POLICY (CFSP/CSDP IPC) - 4 September 2020, Berlin

©DBT/Werner Schuering

The 17th session of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy, took place on 4 September 2020 in Berlin, organised by the German Presidency. The meeting brought together 138 Members of Parliaments from national Parliaments, the European Parliament, observer and candidate countries as well as 80 officials. The EP delegation was composed by 14 MEPs and 14 officials. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the IPC was held remotely online and lasted four hours, instead of the usual two days.

The topics chosen by the organisers were well-balanced. The virtual conference offered participants the chance to discuss, listen and exchange views with colleagues on a wide spectrum of current issues in EU foreign, security and defence policy, as well as to work together towards a stronger parliamentary engagement n the EU. 

After a short in camera Troika meeting, the IPC started with a public opening session with the welcome address by Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the German Bundestag, followed by welcome remarks of Mr Dietmar Nietan, MP, Head of the German delegation to the IPC CFSP/CSDP and Mr David McAllister, MEP, Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The first panel lasted 2 hours and was a discussion with Mr Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy, who was in Egypt, Cairo holding talks with representatives of the Egyptian Government and of the Arab League. The debate was dominated by the post-election situation in Belarus.

The second panel lasted for 1,5 hours and discussed the Paths towards a European Defence Union - strategic realignment of the EU's security and defence policy. There was an introduction by Dr Ronja Kempin from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). 

This time there were no conclusions adopted. In the Co-chairs' statement, the main foreign and defence policy issues were addressed, such as the general geopolitical situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the EU's response to it.

A follow-up to the IPC is planned at the upcoming AFET ICM to be held in December 2020 in Brussels. 

Inter-Parliamentary Conference 2-4 March in Zagreb: Call for proactive EU foreign policy

Members of the European Parliament and of the EU national Parliaments discussed the global challenges of the EU and European defence cooperation.

© Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU

82 Members of national Parliaments from EU Member States, the European Parliament from EU candidate countries and countries attending as observers and guests called on the European Union to take on a global leadership role and actively defend and promote its values and interests worldwide. At this Inter-Parliamentary Conference, that took place on 2-4 March in Zagreb, they also stressed the urgent need for strong political and strategic coordination and a more united and proactive external action for Europe. In particular, they emphasised that the EU needs to play a stronger role in promoting a political solution to the conflicts in Syria and Libya.

Following the reform proposals made by the chair of the EP delegation at the previous IPC in Helsinki in September 2019, the Croatian presidency introduced two innovations that contributed to making the IPC more dynamic and relevant:

For the first time after three years, the Croatian presidency went back to the previous practice of having final conclusions adopted by all delegations. The previous five presidencies had opted for conclusions of the co-chairs or of the Presidential Troika and the EP. The presidency also innovated with the introduction in the agenda of an 'urgency debate' on a current topic. The topic was selected by the heads of delegation on the basis of proposals received from various delegations ahead of the Conference. This allowed all delegations to have a say on the Conference agenda. It also made it possible for participants to react to the latest developments in Syria and Libya, which made the Conference more lively. VP/HR Mr Josep Borrell cancelled his participation, as his presence was required in Greece and Ankara due to the recent developments in Syria and the situation at the Greek-Turkish border.

During Session I on 'Global challenges for a resilient and influential Europe', the Croatian Prime minister was replaced by the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Mr Gordan Grlić Radman. On migration, he highlighted the need for the EU to provide a unified response and to define a clear long term position. This should be based on solidarity and preventing illegal migration. The EU has a crucial international role and underlined the need to make it credible with a common role (need to act together) to address common challenges. The minister referred to the four pillars of the Croatian presidency. The last two pillars are closely linked: a Europe that protects needs to be influential. Participants urged the EU to have a credible enlargement policy, insisted that the EU need to be more visible, especially in its neighbourhood and debated on the situation at the Greek's border (with supporting message to Greece). Other Mediterranean countries (Spain and Italy) are worried of the crisis to bespread (as in 2015). Replies focussed on the need for the EU to be an honest and neutral broker and reiterated that solidarity is essential.

MEPs Ms Zeljana Zovko and Mr Tonino Picula represented the EP as keynote speakers in Session II on the Western Balkans. They highlighted the importance of the enlargement process both for the candidate countries and for the EU. Echoed by a number of national delegates, they called for opening the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, while others noted the "enlargement fatigue" among EU citizens and the need for internal EU reforms before any further accessions. The new enlargement methodology was largely welcomed, in particular the strengthened focus on democracy and the rule of law.

Session III on 'Strengthening European Defence Cooperation and Industry' was introduced by the Croatian Presidency, and the Commission Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space as well as EEAS Security and Defence Policy representatives. They completed the state of play regarding the complementary of EU action with national and NATO efforts, co-funding Member States' structuring programmes, European non-dependence throughout the technology and capability supply chains, as well as the third party participation issue. Main thrusts of the interventions and the replies from the panel were to ensure that Member States' buy in in the EDF, PESCO and the CSDP missions, to keep the EDF funding at the original level, to assume the common responsibility to protect the citizens, to ensure common defence and coherence among the EU's initiatives in defence.

Workshop 1 focused on "the Eastern Partnership (EaP) after 2020". Participants agreed that while the current framework document ("20 deliverables for 2020") has brought tangible results for the EaP countries' citizens, there is room for further progress. With regard to the post-2020 EaP strategy due to be announced in March 2020, many delegates emphasised that it is important to take into account the different levels of ambition of the six EaP countries. The objectives for the next ten years should not simply be a repetition of the last decade. There was also consensus that countries with greater ambitions should be rewarded and that renewed dynamism for the EaP is needed.

In Workshop 2 on "PESCO: the challenge of coherence of EU defence initiatives and the role of European and national Parliaments", the SEDE Chair, Ms Nathalie Loiseau MEP highlighted the need for coherence among the EU-level defence initiatives, that should serve three purposes: the improvement of Member States' military capabilities whilst aiming at responding to the citizens-taxpayers legitimate expectations to ensure their protection and to improve the effectiveness of defence expenditure. The Croatian Presidency representative underlined the need for coherence with NATO, European and transatlantic partners. Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight of defence could be addressed at the next IPC in Berlin.

During Workshop 3 on "the role of women in peace and security" chaired by Ms Hannah Neumann MEP, participants underlined the importance to strengthen gender equality and diversity in the EU in general (for example, only 12% women are present in the military sector); reiterated the importance to ensure the implementation of the UN Resolution 325 on WPS and informed that peace agreements last longer when women are part of the negotiations.

Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the CFSP/CSDP: rules-based global order increasingly challenged

Family photo IPC for the CFSP/CSDP in Helsinki, 4-6 September 2019 ©

"The EU needs to take on a global leadership role and actively defend and promote our common values and interests in the world," the co-chairs said in their final statement of the 15th Inter-parliamentary Conference (IPC) for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CFSP/CSDP). They continued: "At a time when others are increasingly challenging the rules-based global order, we Europeans must defend multilateralism, international law, democracy and human rights."

The IPC held in Helsinki on 4-6 September 2019 was attended by 193 parliamentarians from the EU Member States, the European Parliament, EU candidate countries and countries attending as guests.

Following the first session with the President of Finland, Mr Sauli Niinistö, who spoke on security challenges in the Baltic Sea Region and the Arctic, participants discussed EU´s priorities in the area of CFSP/CSDP with HR/VP Ms Federica Mogherini via video conference. Mr Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden, reflected upon transatlantic relations with the participants. Other topics discussed included EU's Defence, hybrid threats, security threats related to climate change, Iran, and the Western Balkans.

Need to deliver on a common European defence

The co-chairs recalled that "over the past two decades three quarters of our citizens have consistently favoured a more common European defence" and that "the European Union still needs to deliver on that demand". They also supported the idea that EU defence cooperation should continue to be coordinated with NATO.

They welcomed the proposals by the EC President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, to increase external action funding in the new multiannual financial framework 2021-2027.

Mainstreaming hybrid threats and climate change in EU´s foreign policy

The co-chairs called on the Commission and the High Representative "to make hybrid risk surveys a standard tool in the EU's external action" and underlined "the need for the EU to remain a source for reliable information and for fact-based assessments".

They also highlighted that "climate security concerns should be integrated into the entire foreign policy portfolio, including foreign trade". They called on the Member States to take a stronger role in the effective implementation of international conventions such as the Paris Agreement.

Security concerns about the Baltic Sea Region and the Artic

The co-chairs pointed out to be "deeply concerned by the significant shift from de-militarisation to re-militarization of the Baltic Sea region". They emphasised that "the Artic should remain a region of non-conflictual cooperation" and stressed the importance of continued dialogue with Russia and all parties involved "notwithstanding the increase in the stationing of Russian military forces in the region, the building and reopening of Russian military bases and the creation of a Russian Arctic military district".

Transatlantic relations, Iran and Western Balkans

"In a global, complex and increasingly multipolar world, the EU and the US must play a leading and constructive role by strengthening and upholding international law, promoting and protecting fundamental rights and principles and jointly addressing regional conflicts and global challenge," they stated.

They called for "urgent restraint and de-escalation of tensions in the whole Middle East, in order to preserve the political stability of countries of the region". They welcomed the regional initiatives on maritime security stating: "Freedom of navigation must be respected at all times."

They pointed out that the key objective of EU enlargement policy should remain "a steady integration of the Western Balkansinto the fabric of the EU's values, processes and structures".

The ICP on CFSP/CSDP took place in the context of the parliamentary dimension of the Finnish presidency of the Council and was organised jointly by the Parliament of Finland and the European Parliament. It was co-chaired by Mika Niikko, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Finland, Ilkka Kanerva, chair of the Defence Committee of the Parliament of Finland and David McAllister, chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament.

The final statement reflects the issues discussed among the participants.

Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the CFSP/CSDP in Bucharest 7-8 March 2019

Family photo IPC for the CFSP/CSDP in Bucharest 7-8 March 2019 © ro2019eu.

120 parliamentarians from the national Parliaments from 27 EU Member States and the European Parliament came together in Bucharest on 7 and 8 March 2019 for the 14th Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy. Just a few months before the European elections, they discussed current foreign and security policy challenges, such as the security of the Black Sea region, the EU's relations with its Eastern neighbours and the future of EU foreign policy after Brexit. The meeting took place in the context of the parliamentary dimension of the Romanian presidency of the Council and was organised jointly by the Romanian Parliament and the European Parliament.

Four workshops, took place on the following topics:

•  The future of CFSP/CSDP from a Brexit perspective
•  EU Strategy for the Danube Region
•  Cyber Security and Hybrid Warfare
•  Military mobility, a challenge to develop synergies between NATO and the EU

A "European Women's Deputy Declaration" was adopted by female parliamentarians in the margins of the IPC and presented in the plenary on the occasion of the International Women's Day on 8 March.

Interparliamentary Conference on CFSP/CSDP in Vienna 11-12 October 2018

At the meeting of the EU Speakers Conference held in Warsaw in April 2012, an Interparliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) was set up. The Conference was established in the spirit of the strengthened role of national Parliaments of the EU Member States and the EP.

It provides a framework for the exchange of information and best practices in the area of CFSP and CSDP, in order to enable EU national Parliaments and the EP to be fully informed when carrying out their respective roles in this policy area. It may, by consensus, adopt non-binding conclusions on CFSP and CSDP matters related to the agenda of the Conference.

The IPC on CFSP/CSDP is composed of delegations of the national Parliaments of the EU member states - by six Members each - and the EP represented by sixteen Members. National Parliaments of EU candidate countries and European member countries of NATO can be represented by a delegation of 4 observers. The Conference convenes once every six months in the country of the Presidency Parliament or in the EP in Brussels. It is presided over by the Presidency Parliament, in close cooperation with the EP.

The Secretariat is provided by the Presidency Parliament, in close cooperation with the EP and with the previous and next Presidency Parliaments.