Seminar: European Defence cooperation from a Nordic perspective

Seminar: European Defence cooperation from a Nordic perspective

As a part of Finland's Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Finnish Embassy in Copenhagen arranged together with the Danish Institute for International Studies DIIS a seminar on European defence cooperation from a Nordic perspective on Friday 27 September. 

The panelists at the seminar were Janne Kuusela (Finland), Peter Michael Nielsen (Denmark), Julius Liljeström (Sweden) and Christine Nissen (DIIS) and moderator Mikkel Runge Olesen.
The panelist discussed the state of European defence cooperation now and going forward. Photo: Katja Luopajärvi

The seminar brought together defence practitioners and researchers from Finland, Sweden and Denmark to discuss the state of European defence cooperation now and going forward. The main topics of the seminar were: What do the Nordic EU members think of the new developments in European defence cooperation, and how do they see European defence cooperation going forward?

Janne Kuusela, Director General for Defence Policy Department in the Ministry of Defence of Finland, emphasized that now is the time for the EU to implement already existing good initiatives on the defence agenda. EU defence cooperation has significantly picked speed in recent years, Kuusela said, much due to increasing uncertainty regarding security and defence. There is a need for a stronger EU in security and defence. At the same time there is a need to maintain a strong transatlantic bond. The other focal point of the ongoing Finnish EU presidency is to address issues on the new defence agenda, such as hybrid threats, artificial intelligence and the security aspects of climate change.  

Peter Michael Nielsen, Assistant Permanent Secretary of Defence for Policy in the Ministry of Defence of Denmark, stated that Denmark’s overall approach to EU defence cooperation is defined largely by the Danish defence opt-out. The Danish government will continue an active foreign and security policy and Denmark will pursue participation in international initiatives. NATO and the transatlantic co-operation are cornerstones of Danish defence policy, Nielsen stated. Denmark will continue its support to the strengthening of EU defence dimension, and EU co-operation with NATO. 

Julius Liljeström, Director for Department of Security Policy in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, stressed that the EU co-operation is imore important than ever before. It is important to strengthen both military and civilian cooperation. We need a multi-faceted approach to the challenges we face, Liljeström stated. 

Christine Nissen, Researcher at DIIS, presented recent research results concerning European attitudes towards developing the European defence dimension. She also summarized Danish attitudes towards the country’s opt-out and the perspectives for a referendum. According to Nissen much depends on what you ask about. If people are asked to consider participation in an EU army the response is going to be different than when being asked about strengthening the EU defence aspect. 

The seminar can be viewed on DIIS’ homepage.