After Nice, EU to redouble global fight against terrorism
By Eric Maurice
EU foreign ministers on Monday (18 July) expressed support to France in the wake of the last week's attack in Nice, but aired strategic ideas rather than specific initiatives against terrorism.
After a minute of silence to honour the 84 people killed by a lorry last Thursday, ministers demonstrated "solidarity in principle," France's Jean-Marc Ayrault told journalists.
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EU diplomacy chief Federica Mogherini said at a separate press conference: “Our responsibility is not to have minutes of silence but to give efficient answers”.
She said all ministers said they were ready to continue to support France on the basis of article 42.7, the "mutual defence clause" of the EU treaty.
Article 42.7 was triggered last November’s Paris attacks to get military support for French operations in Sahel and the Middle East so that Franc could keep more soldiers on patrol at home.
Effective assistance from other member states has so far been limited, however.
When asked about it on Monday, Ayrault only mentioned German support in Mali and a contribution by the Czech Republic.
"France gets by, but it mobilises considerable resources and doesn't want to give up its responsibilities," he said to explain why France now needed further EU support.
Speaking in broader terms, the French minister said the EU needed to have the resources to implement its new foreign policy strategy, which Mogherini presented last month.
"We must give it an operational framework," he said, adding that any new EU defence structures should be "connected and complementary" to Nato.
"We need to go further in a strategy for a defence at a European level," he said.
Ayrault and Mogherini also stressed the need to work with countries in Africa on security issues.
"It seems something not connected directly with the attack in Nice but … it is overall work that we need to do to eradicate the roots of the hatred that we have seen so many times, hitting Nice, but also other parts of the world," Mogherini said.
She said EU counter-terrorism experts were already present in 11 EU delegations in the Arab world, Africa and Asia and that more would be sent to the Western Balkans, Sahel and Nigeria.
Earlier in the day, after a meeting with the EU ministers, US chief of diplomacy John Kerry said that the "act of savagery" in Nice would "only strengthen our shared resolve to combat extremism everywhere".
Mogherini’s common strategy will be discussed later this week at a "counter-Daesh" meeting of more than 30 defence ministers in Washington.