Czech Presidency Conference on European Defence Capabilities

As the Czech Republic took over the European Union Presidency, the Royal United Services Institute co-hosted a high-level conference with the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explore its priorities for Europe’s defence capabilities.

Project Focus

Held in Prague on 22-23 January, the conference provided an opportunity for a ‘stock take’ on the development of European defence capabilities in support of military operations. Discussions approached European Defence issues irrespective of the institution through which European militaries might be employed and assessed progress made in meeting capability targets, efforts to streamline political decision-making and advances in civil-military coordination, as well as practical initiative-based developments surrounding NATO and/or the EU.

The conference sought to have a strong operational and experienced-based approach to military capabilities, with panels including operational commanders, as well as high-ranking military officials from defence policy and acquisition comparing national efforts to adapt European militaries and capabilities. The conference also discussed industrial aspects in an attempt to demonstrate where successful relationships between industry and armed forces can help reinforce European defence capabilities. The conference finally explored the case for stronger military/commercial partnerships, as well as the opportunity for better cohesion between the various European armaments programmes and joint procurements.

Conference Programme

Keynote: Security and Defence Priorities of the Czech Presidency of the European Union
Tomas Pojar, First Deputy Minister, Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Session One: Building relevant defence capabilities for today’s militaries

Chairperson: Vice Admiral Rory McLean, Council Member, RUSI
Major General Jiri Halaska, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Czech Armed Forces - Director of Joint Operations Centre
Lieutenant General Jean-Marc Denuel, Chief of Staff "Plans" at the French Defence Staff Headquarters
Lieutenant General Anders Lindström, Director of Operations for the Swedish Armed Forces

Session Two: De-institutionalising; An initiative-based approach towards improved EU and NATO relations

Chairperson: Desmond Bowen, Former Policy Director, UK Ministry of Defence
Dr Jamie Shea, Director Policy Planning, NATO
Brigadier General Gábor Horváth, Director Concepts and Capabilities, EU Military Staff

Session Three: Making European Defence a Reality at 27; Operational experience and contributions from smaller- to medium- sized nations

Chairperson: Veronika Kuchynova Smigolova, Director, Security Policy Department, Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Lieutenant General Patrick Nash, EUFOR CHAD/CAR Operational Commander
Fabien Limonier, Political Advisor EUFOR Althea
Zoran Hristovski, Secretary of the Institute for Strategic Research and Education

Session Four: Effective Partnering between Governments and with Industry

Chairperson: General Jiøí Sedivy, General Director, Generals S.R.O
Ivan Dvorak, Director of Defence Policy and Security Division, Czech Ministry of Defence
Commodore James Fanshawe, Defence Advisor, Manpower Software

Session Five: Transforming ‘Pioneer groups’ or ‘Permanent Structured Cooperation’ into ‘Capability Joint Ventures’

Chairperson: Tomas Valasek, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence, Centre for European Reform
Carlo Magrassi, Deputy Chief Executive for Strategy, European Defence Agency
Brigadier General Berndt Glowacki, General Manager of the NATO AEW&C Programme Management Agency

Session Six: Trends in European defence spending; Reconciling a contrasting picture

Chairperson: Jonathan Eyal, Director of International Security Studies, RUSI
Professor Derek Braddon, Defence Economist, University of West England
Peter Flory, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, NATO
Jirí Schneider, Program Director, Prague Security Studies Institute

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