It is time for enhanced cooperation within the European Union in defense to start demonstrating tangible results, Estonian Defense Minister Jüri Luik (Pro Patria) said at an informal meeting of EU defense ministers in Sofia that focused on the implementation of the permanent enhanced cooperation format known as PESCO.
“European defense cooperation has moved forward considerably over the past year. Now it is time to start demonstrating tangible results,” Luik said according to spokespeople. “Implementation of the projects of PESCO must start producing necessary military capabilities for Europe. And when doing it it’s important to avoid creating excessive bureaucracy.”
Also talked about were the work plans of the European Defense Fund and cooperation with NATO and the United Nations in the areas of operations. In March the EU defense ministers endorsed the first 17 cooperation projects, including a project in military mobility, for which Estonia was one of the initiators. Luik described the progress made on the military mobility project as remarkable and emphasized that in order for the project to be successful, clear consistency with NATO plans is essential.
“The project in military mobility is a good example of the ability of the European Union to make a contribution to European defense in collaboration with NATO,” Luik said.
Promoting of military mobility is of special importance for Estonia, since units and hardware of allies have to be constantly moved to Estonia as part of training exercises and the enhanced forward presence of allies. EU defense ministers are expected to endorse a second set of projects under PESCO in the second half of this year. By that time also the guidelines for involving third countries in the projects, which after Brexit will hold true also for Britain, must be worked out.
At the same meeting of EU defense ministers the head of the European Defense Agency, Jorge Domecq, offered an overview of the actions of the agency in developing Europe’s defense capabilities and further plans. The meeting in Sofia was attended also by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and the United Nations under-secretary-general for peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, to discuss possibilities for cooperation between the UN, NATO and the EU in common operation areas.