Policy Areas

Norway’s Minister of Defence, Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, discussed ESPD with the EU Troika

An active European policy, Norwegian interests vis-à-vis the European Security and Defence Policy (ESPD), and cooperation in areas of mutual interests. These were the messages highlighted by the Minister of Defence on behalf of the new Norwegian government in the meeting with the EU Troika on 21 November.

22/11/2005 :: Together with colleagues from other non-EU NATO countries (Iceland and Turkey), and Croatia, Strøm-Erichsen met with the EU Troika to discuss the ESPD and the EU’s cooperation with third countries in the field of security and defence. The meeting took place in the margins of the EU’s formal Defence Ministers’ meeting earlier the same day.

On behalf of the Presidency the British Minister of Defence, John Reid,  gave an account of the issues discussed during the EU Defence Ministers’ meeting, including the development of defence capabilities, EU civil and military operations, and the strengthened focus on civil-military cooperation within crisis management.

He also summarised the decisions made by the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency at their meeting the same day, including the approval of a “Code of Conduct on Defence Procurement”. However, there had been no consensus on signing the cooperation agreements between the EDA and Norway and Turkey.

Strøm-Erichsen underlined the importance for Norway of an ESPD that supports the United Nation’s ability to deal with international crises. She also made a point of the fact that Norway is committed to close cooperation and transparency between NATO and the EU.

“Norway supports the development of ESDP”, she said, “A strong and active Europe strengthens the transatlantic security community. Making EU-NATO relations work smoothly is a high priority for Norway. Capability development is important for cooperation between NATO and the EU. The two organisations are facing common challenges in developing their military capabilities”.

The Defence Minister pointed out that Norway is participating in the EU’s military operation in Bosnia (Althea) as well as in the EU police operation in Bosnia and other EU operations. Strøm-Erichsen also confirmed that Norway will contribute about 150 personnel to the Nordic EU Battle Group which has been set up together with Sweden, Finland and Estonia.

“Our cooperation with Sweden, Finland and Estonia in order to establish a Nordic EU Battle Group is a further step in our active engagement with the ESDP”, she said. “We consider the Battle Group Concept a key contribution to strengthen Europe’s crisis management capability. Furthermore, it represents an opportunity to strengthen the capability of the UN in this area. The UN needs active European military involvement”.

With regard to the already negociated agreement on cooperation with the European Defence Agency (EDA), Strøm-Erichsen announced that Norway is ready to sign and would like to do so as soon as possible.

“We believe that the agreement will be signed within a couple of months”, she told Norwegian journalists.. “This agreement will give us access to an important European agency and thus be an important element in our cooperation with the EU in areas of defence capabilities, research and development, and defence industry”.

During her stay in Brussels, the Minister of Defence also had her first meeting with NATO’s Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. Strøm-Erichsen confirmed the government’s decision to contribute to operations conducted by NATO and the UN, with a particular priority given to ISAF in Afghanistan. She also expressed support for the Secretary General’s objective to reform the organisation in order to secure an alliance better prepared to meet the future challenges.

Send this article to a friend  
Print version

Minister of Defence, Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, called for a strengthened relationship between NATO and EU in her meeting with the EU Troika.Photo: Ann Mari Bjørlo/Mission of Norway.