The EU Defence Ministers meet regularly in varying formats to further develop the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDPCommon Security and Defence Policy ).
The Council of the European Union – or Council of Ministers – is the format in which the national ministers of a certain policy area meet. For the area of CSDPCommon Security and Defence Policy , these are the foreign and the defence ministers. Their meeting is officially called the Foreign Affairs Council. The Council of Ministers is usually chaired by the country that currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which rotates every six months.
Germany last held the presidency in the second half of 2020. The Foreign Affairs Council, however, is always chaired by the High Representative of the Union. Normally, the foreign ministers and the defence ministers consult in separate sessions of the Foreign Affairs Council. Depending on the subject, joint meetings are possible. In order to foster closer cooperation between the EU and NATO, the Secretary General of NATO is frequently invited to join as well. The meetings are usually held in Brussels.
In addition to the member states, the High Representative, too, has a right of initiative in the Foreign Affairs Council, that is the right to independently introduce a subject to be discussed and adopted. The rules governing the decisions of the Foreign Affairs Council differ from those of the other Councils of Ministers in that, according to Article 31(4) of the Treaty on European Union, Council decisions that have military or defence implications must be taken unanimously.
The country holding the Council Presidency organises and chairs what is referred to as informal meetings. They serve preparatory purposes, for example to consult on European initiatives. Confidential communication is given priority in this context. It is traditional for the biannual informal meetings of defence ninisters to be hosted by and in the country that currently holds the Council Presidency.