During a visit to Milan, Michael Fallon joined EU defence ministers for discussions about security, defence and the situations in Iraq and Ukraine.
At the informal meeting, the ministers focused on:
- the development of a policy framework for long term defence co-operation
- the financing of EU missions and operations
- rapid response options available to members of the EU, beyond the EU battle groups
These latest discussions will support the development of European Council initiatives to strengthen the EU’s common security and defence policy during formal council talks taking place in November.
The ministers also focused their talks on the EU response to the crisis in Ukraine, building on the progress made at the NATO Summit in Wales last week.
From now until the end of 2015, the UK plans to commit 3,500 personnel to participate in NATO exercises.
The Defence Secretary said:
We need to maintain the momentum that the 22 EU member states who are also NATO members established in committing to defence investment and a rapid reaction force.
With huge security challenges across the Middle East and eastern Europe, building structures that allow us to respond to threats quickly and effectively is integral to our collective security.
The informal meeting also saw the EU defence ministers exchange views on the security situation in Iraq, Syria and Libya, with an aim to strengthen the EU member states’ response.
Today, 10 September, there will be discussions around EU counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean and EU training and capacity-building missions in Mali and Somalia.