PARIS – French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was due to meet European Union and NATO senior officials in a first visit to Brussels as part of France’s drive to relaunch a European defense initiative, the defense ministry said in a Sept.3 statement.
Le Drian arranged meetings with European council President Herman van Rompuy, commission President José Manuel Barroso and foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton.
Other European Union officials include the commissioner for internal market and services, Michel Barnier, and the head of the European Defense Agency, Claude-France Arnould, who also sits on the French committee revising the white paper for defense and national security.
Le Drian is also meeting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and other officials of the Atlantic alliance.
The French minister is meeting Belgian Defense Minister Pieter de Crem for a working dinner.
Le Drian is looking to revive a cross-border European defense effort in line with commitments made by French President François Hollande.
Le Drian has, since taking office in June, held meetings with his counterparts for Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland to discuss boosting European military capability. That objective is in part a response to the U.S. strategic pivot to the Pacific and a reduced American presence in Europe.