Brussels, November 15 (TASR-correspondent) – EU defence ministers at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday agreed to deepen EU-NATO cooperation, such as in activities in the Mediterranean, said Slovak Defence Minister Peter Gajdos after the session.
“This is now an issue of real cooperation, such as in the Sea Guardian and Sophia operations,” said the Slovak minister.
The Sea Guardian operation was launched by NATO last week to help combat terrorism, while the EU’s Sophia operation is aimed against immigrant smuggling, mainly from Libya to Italy. Training Libyan naval forces and coastal guards, as well as implementing an arms embargo to Libya also form part of this operation.
“We’ll also actively take part in this operation by providing help to migrants and preventing human smuggling,” said Gajdos.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, who presided over the two-day meeting, said that she was pleased to see progress in all three components of the EU’s global strategy for its foreign and security policies. The foreign and defence ministers on Monday okayed a European plan for security and defence, which was praised by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg among others.
Meanwhile, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elzbieta Bienkowska from Poland on Tuesday unveiled an action plan focusing on the defence industry and research. This should be approved by the Commission later this month.
The EU defence ministers and Stoltenberg discussed a joint NATO-EU declaration adopted at the NATO summit in Warsaw in July, with specific proposals to be decided by individual member states in December being discussed.
“The EU’s determination to strengthen transatlantic ties, including those between the EU and NATO, is an absolute priority for us,” said Mogherini, praising Sea Guardian as an excellent example of NATO-EU cooperation.
Also at the meeting on Tuesday, EU’s defence ministers approved an increase of €31 million in the European Defence Agency’s budget.