Staff Reporter

EUROPEAN Union Defence Ministers will be holding informal talks today and tomorrow in Palma to promote fresh common policy on matters of defence and security.

Instigated by the recently ratified Lisbon Treaty, the meetings will examine the joint capacity of the EU in circumstances of preventive action and conflict management, including natural disasters.

The talks, which will be opened this morning by Spain's Defence Minister, Carmen Chacon, will take place at the Melia Palas Atenea hotel and the Melia Victoria in Palma. Also on the invitation list are the Defence Ministers of Magreb Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Algiers, Mauritania, Libia and Tunisia). Their input is valued in matters of European-Mediterranean security and it is expected they will explain their contribution to military safeguards in the Western Mediterranean.

In order to set up a common Security and Defence policy and provide it with the necessary civilian and military resources for efficient crisis management, the current Spanish Presidency of the European Union wants to focus on co-ordinating strategy between member states. This will include the development of European military training and information exchange programmes.

The Spanish Presidency wants to provide the means for high level technical research and innovation so that Europe can have its own strong defence industry, “as competitive within our own borders as it is without,” a spokesman said yesterday.