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Estonia Considers Strengthening European Security and Defence Policy To Be Important

18.12.2013

At today’s European Union General Affairs Council session in Brussels, where preparations were made for the upcoming defence-themed European Council taking place on 19-20 December, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that determining a strategic direction for the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) will show that Europe takes the topic of security and defence seriously. “It is important that, at a time when new security threats are emerging, continuously more attention is being paid to the field of cyber defence, including cyber security training and exercises,” said Paet, according to whom the Council plans to call on member states to develop a framework for a European Union cyber defence policy next year. “The CSDP should constantly be on the Council’s agenda,” he added.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that defence topics at the upcoming Council meeting will fall into 3 categories: enhancing the influence of CSDP; developing defence capabilities, including cooperation with NATO and other partners, rapid reaction, EU battlegroups, and cyber defence; and strengthening the European defence industry. Future priorities will be decided for all of these fields and the Council’s conclusions will determine the strategic benchmarks upon which the June 2015 European Council will base its assessments of concrete developments. In addition, the European Council is scheduled to discuss economic and financial policy, talk about economic and social questions, and touch on the topic of migration flows.

At today’s meeting, the European Union foreign ministers and ministers of European affairs discussed the performance and organisation of the European External Action Service (EEAS). According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, the suggestions provided for an examination of the EEAS’s structure and crisis management capabilities as well as a need for enlarging the strategic vision of the EEAS while intensifying coordination and cohesion with the European Commission.

“Estonia considers the clarity of the EEAS structure to be important and supports a common EU foreign policy and a capable EEAS that has a leadership role in shaping, coordinating, and implementing the common foreign policy,” said Paet. “In the future, European Union delegations could offer consular assistance and protection to all EU citizens, especially in crisis situations,” added Paet. According to the Estonian foreign minister, it is important that member states be included in the shaping of personnel policy and that it be based on the principles of equal treatment  and geographical balance for both permanent and temporary (sent from foreign ministries) diplomats.

The European External Action Service became operational in January 2011 and as of July of this year there were 7 officials from Estonia temporarily working for the EEAS in addition to 5 Estonian officials who are permanent members of the EEAS staff.

The General Affairs Council analyses the state of play of the European Union enlargement policy according to the European Commission enlargement strategy and implementation report released on 16 October. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet asserts that Estonia supports the continuation of the EU enlargement policy based on the agreed foundations. “It is important for candidate countries to abide by rule of law, strengthen democratic governance, and have effective economic management,” said Paet. “Strict yet fair conditions are necessary but countries that have made progress must be able to move forward in the integration process,” he added.


More info:
Marika Post
Spokesperson
Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU
+32 474 981 657  

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