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“And who are you?” — Reporter hacks Defense Ministers video conference — today

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The con­fi­den­tial video feed of the EU 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 Union is a huge crunch. A Dutch jour­nal­ist hacked a video meet­ing of EU 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 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 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 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.

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