Ben Wallace Meets EU Defence Ministers In Finland

They are in Helsinki to discuss a range of topics, including the impact of climate change on security.

EU defence ministers met in Finland to discuss naval co-operation, hybrid threats, and the impact of climate change on defence and security.

Leaving the turmoil in Westminster behind, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was there for his first EU defence ministers meeting. However, if Brexit goes ahead in October, it will also be his last.

The meeting was chaired by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. 

She said climate change featured heavily on the agenda and how to reduce the military impact on it.

Maritime security was also discussed, as member states face increasing threats to key shipping routes.

A new EU maritime naval force could be on the cards, to help bolster security at sea. Ms Mogherini said:

"We are seeing a growing demand for a European Union role as a maritime security provider, where the EU and its member states have a clear interest."

Ben Wallace speaking to Michael Farrugia at Helsinki EU defence ministers meeting 290819 SOURCE Pool
Ben Wallace speaks to his Maltese counterpart, Michael Farrugia.

Professor Malcolm Chalmers from the Royal United Services Institute told Forces News that Brexit is not on the official agenda, but is likely to be discussed informally:

"Would we withdraw our forces from Estonia and Poland and the Baltic Sea if we don't get the Brexit we want?

"No, I don't think that's the case at all, and nor should it be.

"I don't see any indication from the Johnson administration that they're prepared to use defence as a bargaining chip in that way."

He went on to say he does not believe Britain's commitment to NATO will not be affected by any outcome of the Brexit negotiations.