EU ministers meet to boost common security and defence

19:20, February 23, 2010      

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EU defence ministers will convene in Palma de Mallorca of Spain on Wednesday and Thursday as the Lisbon Treaty gives new momentum to the European common security and defence.

The informal meeting of EU defence ministers will be the first one since the Lisbon Treaty took into effect in December. The Spanish defence ministry said in a statement that the civilian and military means are necessary to implement the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), formerly known as the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), in the treaty that aims to promote integration in the bloc.

The statement said that the top priorities for Spain during its EU Presidency in the field of security and defence are "institutional, development of capabilities and promoting relations with strategic partners. The final purpose is to enhance the EU's ability to act effectively in conflict management and prevention."

In the next two days, the defence ministers will focus on the EU's ongoing missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Haiti and other countries. They will also hold a special session with five defence ministers from the Maghreb, in an attempt to boost security cooperation in the Euro-Mediterranean area.

The EU-NATO relations is also high on agenda and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is scheduled to attend a work session on Thursday, which is devoted to discussing EU's relations with other strategic partners.

The military alliance is working on a new strategic concept to define its future role. The NATO chief said at Munich Security Conference earlier this month that the North-Atlantic alliance should turn itself into a global security forum with increased ties with rising world powers. The ambitious idea has raised concerns among many countries, fearing NATO would undermine the role of the United Nations.

NATO officials said that the alliance and the EU should not compete with each other and their roles should be complementary rather than competitive.

On the sidelines of the meeting, buyer nations are to meet on the A400M military transport plane to rescue the project that has been in danger with 5.2 billion euros in cost overruns. The French defence ministry said that a final deal with the European Aerospace Defense and Space Company (EADS), the aircraft's manufacturer, could be announced.

Buyer nations, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey, presented on Friday their final offer, saying they are willing to accept a cost increase of 2 billion euros and to offer export guarantees of 1.5 billion euros.

EADS responded in a statement that it was an important step but certain "points are left open for later discussion." It announced last month it would take out 800 million euros, which means a gap of 900 million euros left to fill.

Source: Xinhua
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