The National Defence Committee met the delegation of the National Defence and Armed Forces Committee of the French National Assembly. The discussion focused on the EU will to defend, and on ensuring security.
“In the turbulence that has engulfed the EU after the British decision to leave, our first task is to do all we can to strengthen the European solidarity,” said the Chairman of the Committee Marko Mihkelson. “We absolutely need to take all the steps that could strengthen the trust in the EU ability to ensure security and safety in Europe, which has been eroded.”
Mihkelson stressed the need for EU to defend its foreign border which would also help to ensure internal security. “We tend to forget that without investments into defence it is impossible to ensure internal security and economic development,” Mihkelson said.
Estonia invests two percent of its GDP into defence, and is willing to increase this. In Mihkelson’s opinion, the first step in strengthening the European will to defend would be the increase of the defence expenditure of all the Member States to the agreed two percent of the GDP.
“We could do a lot even in the framework that we have already agreed on. The investments should not duplicate the existing and functioning structures. At the European level, we must coordinate our missions better.
When strengthening the European defence identity, we should be careful not to split Europe, or not to duplicate the activities of NATO.
Estonia is a small nation and it is absolutely clear that cooperation with our allies and partners is important for us in ensuring our national security. Our deterrence is guaranteed by our allied relations with the NATO, and our broadening defence identity in the European context.” Mihkelson emphasised that Estonia is not only a consumer of security but currently also contributes to eight different missions.
Mihkelson expressed his hope that the close bilateral defence cooperation between Estonia and France would continue.
The Head of the French delegation Patricia Adam said that the EU should pull itself together to ensure security. In her opinion, the citizens are clamouring for the EU to ensure their security. In order to better organise this, she proposed forming one headquarters for the European forces, which would coordinate intelligence, cyber defence, and border security.
In addition to the Chairman, members of the Committee Marianne Mikko, Oudekki Loone, and Ants Laaneots also took part in the meeting.
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