BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat is warning member countries not to slash defense spending as their economies buckle under pressure from the coronavirus, as the disease could spark security challenges.

After chairing a video conference of defense ministers on Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said it was clear the pandemic is very likely to deteriorate the security environment in the years ahead.

Borrell said as the crisis also hits the economy, it’s important to secure the necessary funding for security and defense.

Talks between the 27 EU member countries over their next long-term budget have been blocked for more than a year, well before the coronavirus hit Europe.

Cuts to defense funds in that spending package were already under consideration. Given the impact of the disease, that seems even more likely now.