The Minister of Defence François Bausch attended the informal meeting of EU defence ministers in Stockholm on 7-8 March 2023.
The meeting started on 7 March 2023 with an informal dinner of the defence ministers in Stockholm.
On 8 March 2023, during the first working session, the EU Defence Ministers, in the presence of the Ukrainian Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov and commanders of the EU Military Assistance Mission for Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine), discussed the most pressing needs of the Ukrainian armed forces.
The 27 EU defence ministers then discussed the need to increase the production and delivery of ammunition to Ukraine. With artillery playing a major role in this war of attrition, Ukraine's need for artillery shells is huge and urgent. The ministers discussed a proposal from the European External Action Service (EEAS), which suggests three parallel tracks: immediate delivery of weapons and ammunition, placing large joint orders with the European defence industry and, finally, building up European industrial capacity to meet current and future demand.
"Minister Rezinkov's presentation, and in particular the situation in Bakhmut, show us that continued support from EU Member States and allies remains vital for Ukraine. I therefore fully support the proposal on the acquisition and production of ammunition and the continued support to Ukraine, as well as the collaborative approach proposed under the three parallel tracks," said François Bausch, adding: "In 2022, we have provided lethal and non-lethal equipment worth €74.4 million, which represents more than 16% of the annual defence budget. For 2023, we have already earmarked €71 million for our support to Ukraine. This is not a cap. Just last week we delivered 3,200 155mm shells to Ukraine. That is the equivalent of 10 truckloads of essential equipment for Ukraine.
The Defence Ministers then reviewed the current and future military and civilian missions of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), particularly in Niger, the Gulf of Guinea and Moldova.
During the final working session, the Defence Ministers exchanged views with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and the Chair of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Security and Defence, Nathalie Loiseau, on how to counter external interference in all theatres of operation. The Defence Ministers discussed in particular the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), whose mandate is due for renewal in June 2023 and which is under pressure from the Malian junta to dilute its mandate. Luxembourg has expressed its support for this mission, particularly in the face of the malicious misinformation it has been confronted with. EU cooperation with NATO and the UN remains crucial for regional and global security, for the defence of the UN Charter, for the defence of human rights as well as for global food security.
Press release by the Directorate of Defence