Military capabilities and cooperation with strategic partners discussed by EU Defence Ministers

The two-day informal meeting of Defence Ministers of the EU Member States continued on Friday 13 March in Prague.

The meeting was chaired by Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová. The agenda of the second day was divided into two sessions. In the first session the Defence Ministers addressed the development of EU military capabilities; the second session focused on the cooperation of the EU with its strategic partners in the area of security, i.e. NATO, the UN and the African Union.

The ministers’ debate on the development of military capabilities mainly revolved around the availability of helicopters for military operations and the continuity of projects and programs initiated by the French Presidency. One of the priorities of the Czech Presidency is to strengthen the capabilities of transport helicopters, and thus to help strengthen the sustainability of forces sent to missions. Minister Parkanová in this context pointed out that the Czech Presidency convened an international seminar in Prague that addressed the possibility of a multi-national resolution of insufficient helicopters in the EU and NATO operations. The ministers further discussed the continuity of the projects and programs associated with the development of capabilities that were initiated by the French Presidency. These include, in particular, the establishment of the European Air Transport Fleet (EATF), an important initiative in the field of strategic air transport. The Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA) Alexander Weis spoke within this session, informing the ministers of both the current and planned activities of the agency. Vlasta Parkanová found the discussion on capabilities-related projects very inspiring. “To achieve our common goals in the global economic crisis, we must join forces and use the limited resources with maximum efficiency by means of common multi-national projects”, said the Czech Defence Minister.  

In the following part, the ministers focused on the educational programme inspired by the ERASMUS exchange scheme, which is another priority of the Czech Presidency in the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy. An important event of the Czech Presidency in this area will be the International Seminar on the “Mobility of Students - the Path towards Enhancing European Education and Culture in Security and Defence”, which will take place at the University of Defence in Brno from 21 to 22 April 2009. “Closer cooperation in military education will translate into better interoperability of EU Member States’ armed forces in the future”, said Minister Parkanová.

The final session of the meeting was dedicated to the cooperation of the EU with its strategic partners in the area of security, i.e. NATO, the UN and the African Union. The ministers said in the discussion that full-fledged practical cooperation between the EU and NATO is necessary and inevitable. According to the ministers, the importance of the development of relations with the UN is corroborated in practise by the ability to cooperate during the operations’ handover. As far as the cooperation with the African Union is concerned, the ministers expressed their interest to pay permanent attention to the African continent and provide assistance in such a way so as to enable African countries to solve their problems themselves.

There was also a meeting of the Troika (representatives of current and following Presidencies, General Secretariat of the Council and European Commission) with defence ministers of NATO member states that are not EU members (Island, Norway and Turkey) and candidate countries (Croatia, FYROM). The aim of the meeting was to inform the partners about the course and results of the informal meeting of EU defence ministers.

Contact: Vladimír Lukovský, Press Information Service of the MoD, phone: +420 973 200  153, mobile: +420 724 006 780, e-mail:

Author: Vladimír Lukovský, Press Information Service of the MoD