Making the EU more resilient and better able to take action

Goals of Germany's Presidency of the Council of the EU Making the EU more resilient and better able to take action

Federal Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has come together with her European counterparts for an informal meeting in Berlin. What are Germany’s goals in the field of security and defence during its Presidency of the Council of the EU? And, does Europe actually still need NATO? Here are some FAQs.


Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU, centre, back), Federal Defence Minister, speaks at the start of the informal meeting of EU defence ministers; she sits next to Jens Stoltenberg (2nd from right), NATO Secretary General.

Following the pandemic-related restrictions in recent months, it was the first time that the EU defence ministers had come together in person again for an informal meeting in Berlin.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Michael Kappeler

Why do we need European security policy?

EU member states can only respond appropriately to external crises and conflicts if they cooperate. That makes Common Security and Defence Policy indispensable for a strong Europe in the world. The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) pools the forces of EU member states, strengthens the capacities of partners, eliminates unnecessary duplication of structures, and ensures peace and stability throughout the EU.

To put it succinctly – the CSDP provides great security for EU member states at a lower cost.

What goals has Germany set in the field of European security and defence policy for its Presidency of the Council of the EU?

Along with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Germany is focusing on making the EU more resilient and better able to take action in the field of security and defence policy. One important goal of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU is to push ahead with what is known as the Strategic Compass. The Compass indicates the direction for future EU actions in the security and defence sector. It is to define who and what poses a risk to Europe, which must defend itself accordingly, as well as laying out the steps that are needed to protect the Union and its people from future threats and challenges. Should a security crisis arise, the EU will be able to act more swiftly thanks to the strategies laid out in the Compass. And, on the basis of these strategic directives, it can be deduced specifically which instruments and skills the EU needs.

What have the EU defence ministers achieved to date?

In European security and defence, a number of joint initiatives are already in place, including the EU Battlegroups and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). When they last met in Brussels on 12 November 2019, the EU defence ministers launched other important projects to strengthen Europe’s ability to defend itself. PESCO, for instance, now embraces 46 projects, six of which are currently being coordinated by Germany. They cover a wide spectrum of activities, from developing underwater drones to maritime mine countermeasures, developing a European Medical Command and cyber defence.

In view of the Common Security and Defence Policy, does the EU actually still need NATO?

Europe still depends on NATO, which is and will remain a vital pillar in the defence of our country and our alliance. Germany, and indeed the whole of Europe, owes its prosperity to the protection afforded by the alliance. Yet, at the same time, we here in Germany and our partners in Europe are going to have to shoulder more responsibility in future for our own defence. What we aim to do is to strengthen the European pillar within NATO so that the EU can also act independently within the framework of NATO.

On 26 August Federal Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell hosted an informal meeting of EU defence ministers in Berlin. Talks focused on how to strengthen the ability of the EU to take action in the field of security and defence.