Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

Brussels, 15 November 2022

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Good morning,  

Today, we are going to have two meetings. First, the [Steering] Board of the European Defence Agency (EDA), which I have the honour to chair. And secondly, the Defence Ministers Council [Foreign Affairs Council (Defence)].

We are living in a situation in which the security landscape of Europe is changing. We are facing challenges – that is evident. The whole continent is suffering the consequences of the war in Ukraine. We have to enhance and increase our Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

We are going to study the CARD, something that you will be listening a lot about: the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence. It is the landscape of the defence capabilities of the European armies, all together: which are our capabilities, what do we need to have more, how [can we] work better together.

We are going to increase our defence efforts, but in order to do it lightly and avoid wasting money, we have to do it more together. European armies have to share, they have to be interoperable, they have to go together as much as possible to replenish their stocks. That is why, together with the [European] Commission, we have launched this initiative of joint procurement: going to the defence industry and [trying] to look for the better offers, all together, presenting a united capacity – a united request to the industry – to optimise what we are doing and to get the best [out] of our financial resources.

The CARD will be the guide [to] advance on replenishing stocks and increasing our capabilities.

Then, we will have a look at the development of the implementation of the [Strategic] Compass. The Strategic Compass continues working.

Today, we will study operational scenarios. The Military Staff will present to the Ministers [of Defence] two scenarios in which we could deploy this [EU] Rapid Deployment Capacity, which is at the core the Strategic Compass. It has to be operational in practical terms next year [for the live exercises].

We will also see what and how to push for the practical implementation of the training mission for the Ukrainian army [EU Military Assistance Mission (EUMAM)].

In less than three months, this mission will be operational. This is a record time for the Europeans. 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers will be trained in different European Member States. It is going to be a big effort in order to renew, increase, improve the capacities of the Ukrainian army. 15,000 soldiers in different EU Member States. This mission will be at the core of our military support to Ukraine.

Also, we are going to launch a mission in Niger. We have to think that the world has a lot of troubles, a lot of scenarios where we can improve [the] security of our partners: not only in Ukraine, also in Niger.

And then, finally, financial resources. We will see which is the situation of the European Peace Facility (EPF), the fund that we are using to support our financial support to Ukraine. We are already at €3.1 billion mobilised from this fund, together with what the Member States are doing on their side. We will see which are the financial perspectives for the rest of the fund and call on the Member States, depending on [the] needs we will have for the future, to see how we can better use the remaining funding.

It will be a long meeting. We will study the situation on the ground, where certainly the Ukrainian army is advancing. Russia’s troops are retrieving. The war is taking a completely different situation turn than Putin could have imagined when he launched this attack against Ukraine 9 months ago.

Q&A

Q. Are you confident that the Compass will be operational next year as you have just said, or next year we will keep discussing scenarios? 

No, for the next year, the Rapid Deployment Capacity will be operational. That is what the [Strategic] Compass says and that is what is going to happen.

Q. On the EU training mission for Ukrainian soldiers, can you tell us why the EU needs to do this on top of everything? Why is this important? 

Why? Because the Ukrainians need it. We received requests from the Ukrainian Military Headquarters, saying, “that is what we need; this is the specific type of training that our soldiers need”. The war today is a very sophisticated thing. It requires specific capacities to be able to use the modern arms, the modern tactics of a war which is a completely different war from what we were used to do in classical times. The armies need to be completely trained. And the important thing is that different Member States will contribute with different training capacities. In the country I know best – mine, Spain -, they will be training Ukrainian soldiers. Not only in Poland, not only in the countries at the border – all European countries will contribute.

Q. In replenishing the arms stocks, the ammunition stocks, what is more important? Speed or price? Or buying “European”? 

Well, it is true that we have made an effort supplying arms to the Ukrainian army. These arms were not produced on the spot, they were taken from the stocks.

So, the stocks have to be replenished. What is important? The important is to go together, to avoid splitting the market, to avoid competition. We have to avoid what happened with the vaccines. Everybody together, all together makes better prices, better quality and better time.

Thank you. 

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-233382  

Source – EEAS

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