The defense ministers of the European Union reached a political agreement on Monday to further coordinate the military capabilities of the member states at the service of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.RELATED
“Today what we have decided is to increase the coordination of our capacities,” said the EU’s high representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, at a telematic press conference after the videoconference meeting of the ministers.
The head of community diplomacy explained that the ministers spoke of “exploring how to use military know-how at the EU level” and creating a working group for it within the European External Action Service that he heads.
An activity that, he assured, would be carried out “in full coordination and complementarity with NATO”, with which “there will be no duplication of work”.
“But it is important that we Europeans work together to ensure mutual support in full solidarity,” he stressed.
Last week, the Atlantic Alliance foreign ministers agreed to give the necessary military support to combat COVID-19, specifically by coordinating stocks of medical supplies and transferring them by plane between allies.
Borrell praised the work that the military is doing throughout Europe, taking care of security or building hospitals “in record time”, and mentioned the task of the Spanish Army.
Regarding the impact of the pandemic on the missions and operations of the Common Defense and Security Policy, Borrell stated: “The health and safety of our personnel is a primary consideration”, and “we have taken measures to protect it”, also in accordance with the decisions made by the authorities of the countries in which they are deployed.
At the same time, he said it is essential that they maintain their “presence on the ground” in areas that are already fragile and unstable, a situation that the pandemic may worsen.
“We will explore ways to help nations hosting missions deal with the pandemic and increase their resilience,” he said.
For the moment, he affirmed that “problems” have not been detected in the missions, in which “rapid measures have been taken to mitigate the risks and fight the pandemic wherever they are.”
For example, their activities, non-essential movements and activities abroad that are not fundamental to the development of the mission have been limited, and daily controls of personnel are carried out.
Especially, the training missions have slowed down, while others, such as Althea, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, or Atalanta, which fights piracy off the coast of Somalia, “maintain a strong level of operational capacity, we can say that they are 100 % active, “he noted.
Asked about Irini, the new European naval mission in the Mediterranean to help comply with the UN arms embargo on Libya, confirmed that several member states have already made contributions, but that contributions are still lacking so that it can be launched.
“I hope that in days I will have the complete list of member states committed at the operational level, which will give this mission capabilities,” he said.