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The confidential video feed of the EU defense ministers started with a glitch: a Dutch journalist hacked in because the participant from the Netherlands was careless. The content also fits: building the European Defense Union is a huge crunch. A Dutch journalist hacked a video meeting of EU defense ministers, uncovering an embarrassing security hole. The journalist Daniel Verlaan managed to take part in the ministerial meeting relatively easily, as the TV station Rtl announced. The Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld posted a photo of her participation in the online meeting on Twitter. But an attentive reader noticed that the photo showed five of the six digits of the secret access code for the meeting. He then gave the broadcaster a tip. The last number was then found quickly and the reporter sat at the virtual negotiating table. EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell asked the new participant in astonishment who he was. “I am a journalist from the Netherlands”, he introduced himself to the 27 EU defense ministers. “You know that you are attending a secret council meeting?” Borrell asked. Verlaan then apologized for the disturbance and left the meeting. The intermezzo only lasted a few minutes.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte was not pleased. “That shows once again that ministers have to understand how careful you have to be with Twitter,” he said in The Hague. The Ministry of Defense spoke of a “stupid mistake”. The photo with the access code was quickly removed. The minister is currently in quarantine at home and wanted to make it clear with the photo that she is also active at home at the kitchen table.
“Nothing works without NATO and the USA” AKK warns against going it alone in Europe
The group also encountered rather sobering insights in terms of content. The planned establishment of a European defense union is making slow progress. The Pesco cooperation platform has done important basic structural work and there are also first practical advances, according to an analysis by the federal government that was classified as classified. However, the paper, which was also the subject of the defense ministers’ video switch, shows a poor record. After three years, no breakthrough had been achieved that would significantly increase Europe’s ability to act. According to information from the Defense Ministry in Berlin, the EU defense ministers agreed to transfer projects that did not achieve the expected results to other projects or to terminate them. In addition, the initiatives are to be geared more closely to the operational ability to act for missions in the future. Among other things, they are about setting up a coordination center for military activities in cyberspace, developing an unmanned system to combat submarines, and improving the training of soldiers.
“Merkel not on this line” Macron distances himself from AKK’s views
Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer emphasized after the deliberations that there was agreement that Europe had to be capable of acting and sovereign. This not only requires good ideas, but also the tools. The Pesco cooperation platform was launched in December 2017 — also to make the EU more flexible and independent of the USA in the defense sector. It is intended as the mainstay of the European Defense Union and is supported by all EU states with the exception of Malta and Denmark. One reason given for the overall rather moderate success of the initiative to date is the lack of projects that close significant skill gaps. In addition, the pesco has not yet enjoyed a sufficiently high political priority as a military framework for action in all participating member states, according to the Federal Government’s analysis.