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European Defence and Security Conference - Speech by Commissioner Thierry Breton

European Defence and Security Conference - Speech given yesterday by Commissioner Thierry Breton.

"Check against delivery"

Dear Representatives of the defence community in Europe,

Ladies and gentlemen

I am glad to be with you today to open the afternoon debates of the second edition of this European Defence & Security conference.

Since the first edition last year, the security landscape in Europe has dramatically changed.  With the aggression of Russia in Ukraine, V. Putin attempts to redesign the security architecture of Europe and threatens the fundamental values of what makes Europe: freedom, self-determination, peace.

Peace has never been and is not a given. Let's not be afraid of words: the return of the war on the European continent is a wake-up call for all.

The return of a high intensity conflict obliges us to review our approach to Europe's security. Sanctions but also the strategy of decoupling all the dependencies we may have with Russia (technological, energy, other).

Since the 24th of February 2022, Europe acted quickly, always in unity, but also in cooperation with our partners within NATO.

We have – and this is unprecedented in the history of the Union – organised an arms transfer to support Ukraine, using the European Peace Facility which was not necessarily designed for this at the outset. This shows our commitment and determination to support Ukraine.

We are also very attentive to the hybrid dimension of this war, in particular the threats to critical infrastructures such as the energy network, the transport sector, and space assets, whether they are physical or cyber threats. We also counter the massive disinformation machine that accompanies Russia's military action.

All these elements are all pointing to the same conclusion: Europe must become a stronger and more credible security provider, including for its own security.

From the traditional soft power, it must progressively evolve towards hard power with the attributes that this requires.

This the meaning of the Strategic Compass adopted by all Member States as a European common defence doctrine.

This is also the messages of the leaders who, in Versailles last may, called for a more integrated Europe in terms of defence.

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