Press Advisories

9. 6. 201720:56

Ministers of the Member States, representatives of the EC and representatives of NATO and the arms industry agreed in Prague to strengthen EU defence

On Friday 9 June, on the initiative of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Defence and Security Conference Prague, DESCOP, was held. Member States’ ministers of foreign affairs and defence, representatives of the EU and NATO and members of the arms industry met at the Žofín palace in Prague. The speakers welcomed the current proposals by the European Commission to reinforce EU defences, agreed to strengthen cooperation between the EU and NATO and praised the creation of the European Defence Fund.

“By hosting the DESCOP conference, Prague now ranks as one of the cities where the future of the EU is being formed. I am honoured to be able to welcome European political leaders here, along with the Deputy Secretary General of NATO. Defence and security are issues that unite the Member States and which we must unconditionally address in order to strengthen our citizens’ confidence in the European project,” said Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

“The EU spends about half what the US does on its defence, while achieving only 15% of its effectiveness,” commented President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker when explaining the need to strengthen defence cooperation.

The conference confirmed that strengthening European defence does not conflict with NATO obligations. “A stronger EU means a stronger NATO and a stronger NATO means stronger defence for Europe,” emphasised the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Rose Gottemoeller.

The Common Security and Defence Policy continues to be built on an intergovernmental foundation and all EU Member States are required to agree on its form. However, for the first time in their history, there is a consensus on the need to move forward on the issue of defence. The Defence and Security Conference Prague has become an important part of a wider framework within which decisions will be made on further specific steps and activities.

This week, in its proposals, the European Commission set out the possible directions for Member States to focus on.

With the creation of the European Defence Fund, the Commission has also put forward a concrete and practical instrument, which may have a fundamental impact on Member States’ investment into their defence capabilities, reduce duplication of defence spending and support the European defence industry. The Czech Republic is prepared to become fully involved in these activities.

The Prague conference follows on from discussions on the future of the EU, held by EU27 leaders in Bratislava and Rome. Strengthening security and defence is one of the priorities for the future direction of the European Union. Today’s event will be followed up by the European Council meeting in two weeks’ time, which will focus on deepening EU cooperation in defence and security on the basis of today’s discussions.