The EU Chiefs of Defence (CHODs) met in Brussels for their first Military Committee of 2021 and have selected the Austrian Chief of Defence Staff, General Robert Brieger as new Chairman of the EU Military Committee from 01 Jun 2022. The meeting, the first in person since last year, was chaired by General Claudio Graziano.
In these challenging times the EU has started important reflections on Europe’s current and future defence and security needs. Additionally, a reinvigorated EU Battlegroups concept could represent a good opportunity for the EU’s preparedness and deterrence in addressing crisis through training, exercises and eventually real deployment.
General Claudio Graziano
The session was opened by the High Representative Josep Borrell, who stressed the importance of the strategic autonomy and EU defence initiatives, particularly the role of EU Battlegroups to act as initial-entry forces in rapid response situations.
The European External Action Service then briefed the EU CHODs about the latest developments related to the Strategic Compass. The CHODs welcomed the presentations and expressed their contentment with the role of the EUMC in providing military input and expertise to the political discussions.
Then the Director General of the European Union Military Staff, Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean updated the CHODs on EU battlegroups. They acknowledged that the lack of contribution in the EU Battlegroups roster may hamper the EU´s capacity to act in a rapid-response situation. They recognised the need for an urgent viable solution to give more appeal to the EU Battlegroups.
A specific session was dedicated to the CSDP military missions and operations during which the Operation Commander of EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini, the Operation Commander of EUFOR ALTHEA, Lieutenant General Brice Houdet and the Operation Commander of EUNAVFOR ATALANTA Vice Admiral Jose M. Nuñez Torrente briefed the Chiefs of Defence. Given the current shortfalls, CHODs recalled the urgent need for member states to provide CSDP Missions and Operations with adequate resources, personnel, assets and logistics, in line with the political level of ambition.
Successively, the Chairman of NATO military committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, joined the session on the EU-NATO cooperation, reinforcing, once again, the strong and further increasing linkage between EU and NATO. CHODs recognised the need to take advantage of the concomitant developments of the EU Strategic Compass and NATO 2030 initiative, as a framework for improving the cooperation between the two organisations.
-19 May 2021