EU leaders discuss security cooperation with NATO chief
The 27 leaders of the European Union shifted their focus to defence and security issues on Friday when regrouping for a second day of online talks.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also joined the videoconference for a discussion on cooperation between the bloc and the defence alliance.
"The EU efforts are going hand in hand with the military efforts across the continent," he said before heading into the talks.
"For NATO, the main task during this pandemic has been to make sure that a health crisis doesn't turn into a security crisis," he said, "because the threats we are [sic] faced with before the pandemic, they are still there: Russia's aggressive actions, more brutal forms of terrorism, sophisticated cyber attacks, the rise of China and the security implications of climate change."
European Council President Charles Michel echoed similar tones, stating that "strong partnerships requires strong partners."
The EU has been trying to coordinate more closely on defence and security matters in recent years, for example with plans to jointly fund defence development projects.
The overarching aim is greater strategic autonomy, allowing Europe to project its interests and values on a world stage where the United States seems to be pulling back as China and Russia grow more assertive
EU leaders are to hold a strategic debate on European security and defence policy, according to official information published by the European Council.
They are also discuss how to increase their resilience to cyberattacks and hybrid threats, and debate relations with their southern neighbours.