“The current situation in Ukraine and terrorism in Africa and the Middle East show that the EU’s “soft power” is not effective enough. Collective defence is of utmost importance”, said Foreign Affairs committee chair Elmar Brok (EPP, DE) on Tuesday in the opening of a debate on the upcoming June European Council on Defence.
In the debate with EEAS Executive Secretary General Alain Le Roy and members of national parliaments, Foreign Affairs and Defence MEPs voiced concerns about the shrinking defence budgets. They called on EU Member States to foster defence investment in order to achieve the needed security. “The EU can only survive if all member states have the same perception of security”, said Mr Brok.
Earlier on 5 May, EP Foreign affairs committee members and members of EU national parliaments held a debate on the review of the EU Neighbourhood policy with the EU Neighbourhood policy commissioner Johannes Hahn.
Members highlighted that promoting people to people contacts is an essential element of confidence building for a more secure and stable neighbourhood, stressing in particular the key role of young people.
Elmar Brok emphasised: ‘Young generations are the future of Europe and we should make sure that they can actively contribute to good relations between the EU, its Eastern neighbours and Russia. Our doors and our minds must remain open to such a dialogue’.
Brok and his colleagues from AFET, SEDE and national parliaments called on the relevant EU institutions and all Member States to swiftly implement special measures to facilitate visa free travel to the EU for students and young people from the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia in order to promote dialogue and exchanges among them and with European youth.