Thursday

17th Jun 2021

EU preparing to send soldiers to Mozambique

  • EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The EU is preparing to help train Mozambique's armed forces, amid wider ambitions for a stronger European military capacity.

Military trainers and soldiers to protect them ought to be deployed well before the end of the year, EU foreign relations chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday (6 May) after meeting defence ministers in Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"If we are not able to send the mission by the end of this year, I would not consider this as a good result. I would hope we would do it before," he said.

"The Mozambique government has been asking for help, we will try to send a training mission ... in order to contain the security situation," he added.

Portugal, a former colonial power in the African country, already sent some 60 special-forces personnel to help train local troops in April.

"Portugal has already offered half of the staff [for an EU mission] and sent military instructors, but that has to be considered as an advance to be integrated into a European Union training mission if we finally agree," Borrell said.

"The political will [among EU states] is there," he also said.

Mozambique has been fighting an Islamist insurgency in its gas-rich Cabo Delgado province for the past four years.

But the new sense of urgency comes after militants attacked the town of Palma in March, killing locals and foreign workers, and prompting French energy firm Total to put its project there on hold.

The EU currently has six military and 11 civilian security-training and monitoring missions abroad, most of them in Africa and the Middle East.

And the Mozambique one would resemble its military-training mission in Mali, Borrell said, which has about 150 personnel.

Some EU countries have also formed "battlegroups" of up to 1,500 soldiers which could, in theory, play an active combat role in emerging conflicts.

These have never been sent into action in the 14 years since they were drawn up on paper.

But defence ministers, on Thursday, also discussed creating a rapid reaction force of up to 5,000 soldiers in future.

The idea is backed by 14 EU states - Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain.

Under the EU treaty, they can go ahead even if others, such as Poland, which fears this might compete with Nato structures, do not want to take part.

"Rivalry between the EU and Nato would be wrong," Poland's defence minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Thursday.

But transatlantic military ties got a shot in the arm the same day, when the EU said Nato allies Canada, Norway, and the US could take part in a €1.7bn EU scheme to help forces move around Europe more easily, by building bridges, roads, and airfields, as well as slashing red tape.

"It will make EU defence more efficient and contribute to strengthen our security", Borrell said.

"It will be a quantum leap in terms of concrete cooperation," Germany's defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer added.

"Non-EU allies play an essential role in protecting and defending Europe," Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg also said.

Canada, Norway, and the US all have soldiers in Nato-flag battalions in Poland and the Baltic states.

The 'tripwire' forces are designed to deter Russian aggression by the promise of surging much larger units across Europe to the region if they were attacked.

Column

Why the EU can't do security and defence

What if the EU can't guarantee European security? In times when US physical presence does not make up for its mental absence, the question got urgent.

News in Brief

  1. Northern Ireland parties agree new first minister
  2. EU set to welcome back US tourism
  3. EU approval of Russian vaccine faces delays
  4. UK asks EU to freeze 'sausage war' for more talks
  5. Reynders 'deeply regrets' Hungary anti-LGBTIQ law
  6. EU states slammed for weakening roaming rules
  7. Euro 2020 Greenpeace activist could have 'paid with his life'
  8. German platoon in Lithuania shames Nato force

Nato chief backs Belarus sanctions

Western allies reiterated plans to punish Belarus for a recent air hijack after Nato foreign ministers held video-talks on Tuesday

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. US and Russia restart talks on cyber and nuclear war
  2. Europe needs to help sea rescues, say NGOs
  3. EU countries can start 'going to the bank' for recovery funds
  4. EU 'concerned' at Johnson & Johnson vaccine shortfall
  5. Why the EU renewables target needs to be (a lot) higher
  6. EU and US make peace on trade before Russia summit
  7. Hungary passes anti-LGBTIQ bill ahead of 2022 election
  8. Prisoners, homeless, migrants, 'overlooked' in EU vaccine race

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us