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Speech: Remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen at the press conference following the Commission orientation debate preparing the Reflection paper on the future of the European defence

Met dank overgenomen van J.T. (Jyrki) Katainen, gepubliceerd op woensdag 24 mei 2017.

High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini

Today in the College we had a very good and useful discussion on the European Union defence and security work.

This is a field that is top priority for European Union citizens. You see it every day, but you also see it in all opinion polls across the European Union territory, no matter what Member State, no matter what political orientation. European Union citizens put a high priority on the European Union's work on security and defence. There are high expectations from our citizens, strong political will, the EU Treaty offering the right and powerful instruments - not always and not yet fully used.

And so we had an initiative together with Vice-President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen and obviously with the strong steer by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker to bring also the [European] Commission reflection on the future of the European Union on board of this work that is ongoing on the future - and the present - of the European Union security and defence.

It is not only a reflection on the future, but it is also a current work that is ongoing. Those of you who follow the work we do on defence on the other side of the street know that very well. And I will try to give you the broader picture and the general sense of direction and then leave to Jyrki [Katainen] the details on the reflection paper we will adopt on 7 June and the work we are doing on the European Defence Action Plan and the European Defence Fund.

The work in the European Union and across the institutions for the first time is moving fast and forward on security and defence. Just last week with the EU Defence Ministers we decided to establish the first Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) that will take over command of the EU training missions within the EU Military Staff - decision taken unanimously at 28.

We also agreed just last week to work on the governance of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO): one of the provisions of the treaties that was never put in place on security and defence, now identifying the projects that will be potential elements of a Permanent Structured Cooperation. We have decided with Ministers of Defence to remove the financial obstacles to the deployment of the EU Battlegroups - just to give you a sense of how fast and how substantially the work on defence is moving already now.

And this is why the paper we have discussed today on the future of the European Union defence does not take into consideration keeping the status quo or even doing less, but envisages different elements of a menu doing more and doing better together in the field of defence, because we see a clear political will, a clear indication from our citizens that this is the way to go and this is exactly what we are already doing in our daily work.

Second point I would like to make is that this work is done in full coordination with NATO and I say this ahead of a special day tomorrow. It will be a special day for the EU institutions. We will be happy to host President of the United States of America, Mr Donald Trump, but also other presidents like the President of France, Mr Emmanuel Macron.

We have developed in the last six, seven months together with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg 42 different actions in 7 different fields where the European Union and NATO have started to cooperate concretely, operationally as we say when tackle military and defence issues, from maritime security to cyber security, to hybrid threats and the list continues.

The Secretary General and myself will report to our respective councils in a couple of weeks from now, jointly. This to highlight how the strengthening of the European Union work in defence in the present and in the future goes very strongly hand-in-hand with strengthening of NATO. For the European Union it is clear that a strong European Union in the field of security and defence makes NATO stronger and a strong NATO is key to European, but also to American security. I want to make this clear ahead of tomorrow that will also be an important day on this side of Brussels.

This simply because the work we can do through the European Union's means - and Jyrki will elaborate more on that - to support Member States in developing military capabilities will enable Member States to spend better by spending together and this is something that the European Union can support. Actually this is something that only the European Union can support here in Europe and so this is the way for a more efficient way of investing in defence and also in strengthening the development of capabilities in Europe.

Today we started here in the [European] Commission a very important, ambitious, pragmatic and realist reflection. I would say that this is the first time - correct me if I am wrong - that the Commission and the College take such a strong interest and such an active role in supporting the Member States' ambitions on defence and security, with future options to strengthen this ongoing work on European Union security and defence, including using all the instruments that the European Commission can mobilise - and again Jyrki will elaborate on this file. It is a good example of institutions working tougher, putting together all the instruments we have, including the financial ones.

Thank you.

Vice-President Katainen

High Representative/ [Vice-President] Federica Mogherini already explained the context. The reflection paper, which will be adopted on 7 June, is supposed to open up discussions amongst the Member States and with the citizens. We are looking at how to better utilize the existing opportunities, which the existing treaties allow, and what else we could do in terms of creating better security for our citizens.

Our people and Member States can answer and reflect for example whether they want to have better cooperation on cyber security issues and hybrid threats. Do we want to be able to participate to demanding executive EU-led operations in the future? Do we want to be more efficient in external operations together? Do we want to cooperate with NATO in all or in full spectrum of hard and soft security issues? Do we want to share expensive military assets?

These are just examples of the questions to which we need answers. The existing treaties allow Member States to do more than they have been willing to do so far. But now we have understood that not only our citizens, but also governments have realized that the nature of security threats has changed and we have to cooperate much better.

The borderline between security and defence is blurring all the time. We have to look at both sides, we cannot differentiate the two as clearly as it was possible few years ago.

When looking at the issue from an economic point of view, we can see that the EU together as a whole is the second biggest spender in the military field after the United States. But due to the lack of sufficient coordination, our capabilities in Europe are not as well developed as they are elsewhere. Our lack of interoperability is a major challenge for our security.

The lack of cooperation between Member States in the field of defence and security is estimated to cost annually between 25 to 100 billion euros. In other words it means that all the Member States are investing more or less in the same issues, in same capabilities and it is very costly. So we have to be more efficient. That is why we need a strong political will to change things. This is a highly political issue - everything depends on the political will. It is also an economic necessity.

At the same time when we will publish the reflection paper, there will be two other proposals, which have been prepared in our teamwork, but Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska is in the lead in these issues. The first proposal will help European defence industry to develop further. There will also be a budgetary announcement regarding the European defence sector. The other proposal will touch upon joint acquisitions. How Member States could improve pooling and sharing? How they could improve joint public procurement and do joint acquisitions, which would save money and increase cooperation between the Member States in the field of security and defence?

As you probably remember we already have established a European facility which is already now financing defence related research. Now we have €25 million available, next year most probably there will be more and by 2020 we hope to increase this to €90 million. And in next MFF, depending on the political priorities, we expect to raise it up to €500 million per year. So, this alone could be a game changer in defence industry sector. But as I said, more will come in 2 weeks' time.

However, it is not only about money or the amount of money, but it is more about how to use money, how to spend money in a more cooperative manner. And what is the political will? How far our Member States want to go when creating European defence and security Union?

Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I139221



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