President Dalia Grybauskaitė is attending a European Council meeting, which has been joined by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. In the run-up to the NATO summit, leaders are discussing EU-NATO cooperation, European security and resilience to hybrid threats.
According to the President, there has been a breakthrough in the European mindset with increased understanding among EU member states that they must assume more responsibility and invest in their own security.
The next multiannual financial framework will provide more than 24 billion euros in funding for European defense and security. It is in the interest of Lithuania, too.
We will be able to secure financing for the formation of the EU’s cyber rapid response force initiated by Lithuania. Five countries have already joined this project: the Netherlands, Estonia, Romania, Croatia, and Spain. Three more countries – France, Poland and Finland – are planning to come in. It is a real step towards strengthening the EU’s response to cyber attacks. Lithuania is the only Baltic state to initiate such a project within the framework of EU’s permanent structured cooperation (PESCO).
Europe also plans to create a “military Schengen zone” to make it easier and faster for allied reinforcements to reach Lithuania and other member states. In order to facilitate the movement of allied military equipment across EU countries, it is necessary to remove bureaucratic hindrances and to improve infrastructure as soon as possible. The EU’s next multiannual budget will allocate more than 6.5 billion euros for this purpose. Lithuania expects to receive additional funding for upgrading its roads according to NATO military standards. An estimated sum of 430 million euros would be required to implement this plan.
To strengthen the EU’s resilience to hybrid threats, leaders mandated the European Commission to work out a new package of sanctions aimed at curbing the production and use of chemical weapons. They also instructed the Commission to develop a specific action plan for a more robust response at the all-EU level to disinformation. It was agreed to improve coordination between the EU and NATO in countering hostile intelligence.