Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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7. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if EU defence issues were discussed at the last EU Defence Ministers meeting last May; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11431/20]

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The last informal EU Defence Ministerial took place on 12 May 2020 via video conference due to the ongoing situation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions on travel and physical meetings.

 At this meeting, Defence Ministers discussed the Covid-19 crisis from the perspective of the possible implications for EU security and defence. There was a particular focus on the impact of Covid-19 on CSDP Missions and Operations where key concerns have been the safety of EU personnel and appropriate support to host nations.

Discussions considered topics such as solidarity, responsiveness, resilience and preparedness, capabilities and partnerships with other nations/organisations all in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. Ministers also discussed the setting up of a Covid-19 Information Sharing Platform to facilitate the exchange of information and lessons learned between member States on military assistance provided in a national or bilateral context in support of civilian authorities' response to the crisis.

There was a further informal meeting of Defence Ministers today by video conference.  The meeting commenced with a meeting of the European Defence Agency (EDA) Steering Board where there was a stocktake on the various strands of work currently being undertaken by the EDA on behalf of the participating member States.  Among the issues discussed at the informal meeting were the current status on a range of CSDP initiatives, including PESCO Projects and the upcoming strategic Review of PESCO, the European Defence Fund and ongoing discussions on the European Peace Facility. The meeting also discussed the impact of the Covid Crisis on CSDP missions and operations and the need to reactivate these missions as soon as circumstances and maintaining the safety of our personnel allows.  An initiative on a Strategic Compass designed to guide future work in the area of CSDP so as to deliver on the level of ambition set out in the EU Global Strategy was also discussed.  In my intervention I outlined Ireland's support for CSDP, our priorities and issues in relation to all these initiatives.


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