In the context of Germany’s EU Council Presidency the German Minister of Defence, Dr. Franz Josef Jung, addressed defence policy directors of the EU in Berlin on Thursday, 25 January. The directors meet at the beginning of each Council Presidency in order to discuss current topics of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) as well as main agenda items of the current Presidency.
With this meeting the minister opened a series of meetings and conferences dealing with the military aspects of European Security and Defence Policy. In his welcome address Dr. Jung emphasized the relevance of the meeting, in particular with a view to the informal ministerial meeting in Wiesbaden on 1 and 2 March.
The objective of European Security and Defence Policy under the German presidency was to continuously strengthen the EU capability to take action, the minister explained in his speech. He highlighted "three areas of crucial importance":
Operations, Capabilities, Cooperation with Partners
1. Continued stabilization in the Western Balkans despite a reduced
military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as launch of
the police and rule of law mission of the EU in Kosovo.
2. Strengthening the military rapid response capability, in
particular of the EU-battle groups, which are to ensure, in the
medium-term, a “joint” capability to act and extension of the
comprehensive civil-military crisis management approach – the
minister illustrated the importance of such cooperation using the
example of Afghanistan: "We must win their hearts in order to succeed."
3. Reinvigorating the cooperation with our partners in NATO and the
United Nations – but also with the African Union.
Jung referred to the EUFOR mission in the RD Congo as an example of a successfully concluded, EU-dominated operation. The aim of the mission had been to support the first free election in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Defence policy directors of the other 26 EU member states as well as representatives of the EU Council Secretariat, the EU Military Staff, the European Defence Agency and the Commission attended the meeting, with the new EU member states Bulgaria and Romania joining for the first time.