Piracy, the A400M and a trust fund to upgrade ex-Soviet helicopters were amongst the subjects discussed today by the European Union's defense ministers at a two-day informal meeting being held in the sea-side resort of Deauville on the northern coast of France, -- hosting the event as it currently holds the six-month revolving presidency of the EU.Photo: French Defense Ministry
At least eight countries – Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden - pledged to take part in a maritime security programme to combat piracy, notably around the Horn of Africa. They will possibly be joined by Britain. “This mission must be undertaken in cooperation with NATO,” said Hervé Morin, the French defense minister, “given that there are many U.S. vessels around the Horn of Africa.” He said details, such as where the HQ of such a maritime force would be – he suggested Britain – still needed to be hammered out, but thought it likely the programme would be formally launched on November 10 when the ministers hold an official meeting in Brussels.
No formal decisions can be made at an informal meeting such as the one being held here in Deauville, but they are the place where the ministers can hammer out problems and lay the ground for formal adoption of decisions at a formal meeting.
Morin said advances were also being made on the Franco-British idea to have a trust fund to help renovate ex-Soviet helicopters in Eastern Europe which are desperately needed by European forces in Afghanistan. He said money for this fund had already been pledged by a number of countries including €500,000 ($702,000) from Luxembourg, €8 million ($11.2 million) from France and £5 million ($ 8.9 million) from Britain. Ministers also discussed the possibility of pooling the air transport capacity of the A400M and even the creation of a multinational fleet. “The idea would be that if Romania needed a transport aircraft they could use one of the ones in the pool,” Morin explained.