European ‘Strategic Compass’ Document to be Approved by March

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In an informal meeting of the EU foreign and defense ministers held in Brest on 12 and 13 January, the officials decided to adopt the “Strategic Compass” by March 2022.

Europe’s “Strategic Compass” proposes a number of initiatives to enable the European Union to act in the security and defense domain and confront the many challenges impacting European interests.

The meeting was also attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.

This was the first meeting of Defense Ministers under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In order to allow ministers to meet in Brest, a reinforced health protocol has been put in place (in particular, restriction of the size of delegations, social distancing in the room).

“This declaration will contribute to strengthening the security of the Euro-Atlantic area and will make it possible to recall that the development of a stronger and more capable Defense Europe will also contribute to strengthening NATO and to international stability,” the French defense ministry said in a statement.

During the session devoted to contested strategic spaces, the ministers shared their views on the actions to be taken to preserve the freedom of access and use of common spaces (space, maritime, air and cyber) which are the subject of a competition whose intensity is growing, while the common rules that govern them are either insufficient, weakened or contested in favor of power relations and irresponsible behavior. Thus, in the field of space, the Minister called for the development of a European strategy dedicated to security and defence. In the maritime field, Florence Parly recalled the need to develop a more global European maritime presence through increased coordination as well as joint European calls, for example in the Indo-Pacific.

Finally, the Ministers continued, together with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the work relating to the adoption of the “Strategic Compass.” This ambitious document, a veritable white paper on European defence, is intended to provide the framework for a joint analysis of the major global upheavals and the threats facing the Union, and to guide European defense policy by 2030. This meeting allowed an in-depth discussion on the “Strategic Compass” project, in all its aspects (crisis management, capacity, resilience, partnerships). The Minister for the Armed Forces hailed the important work that has already been accomplished and which now makes it possible to have a draft text with a high level of ambition for European defense, the French MoD said.

The proposals, realistic and concrete, will constitute an operational roadmap for developing a capable and powerful European Union in the world. The adoption of an ambitious and concrete “Strategic Compass” constitutes the first priority of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU in terms of defense and a contribution to the development of European sovereignty.