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Issues and challenges of the European defence

Informal discussion with Clare Moody, MEP and Vice-Chair of the Security and Defence Committee


by Sara Conti (EU International Relations and Diplomacy - Manuel Marín Promotion) and Cécilia Vidotto (EU International Relations and Diplomacy - Manuel Marín Promotion)


On the 7th of November the association Women in International Security (WIIS) organised an informal conversation in Brussels with the British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Clare Moody.


After her election in May 2014 for the South West and Gibraltar with the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Clare Moody became Vice-Chair of the Security and Defence committee while seating also in the Foreign Affairs committee, Industry Research and Energy committee and Women's Rights committee.


The core of the debate was dedicated to European Security and Defence and special attention was given to the role of women working in the sector. Some other issues were discussed following the flow of exchanges such as Brexit and the coherence of European policies.


« UK and EU have a responsibility towards each other »

Given the speaker's nationality, post-Brexit EU-UK cooperation in security and defence was one of the first topics to be addressed. In this regard, Clare Moody expressed her concerns about the situation but also her trust in a future collaboration, saying that both “the UK and the EU have a responsibility towards each other “.


According to the Vice-President, the fundamental issue for the security and defence field is to be more comprehensive and coherent. The main reason being that the new challenges for the European Union are both external and internal. A very eloquent example is migration as it is linked to third countries, neighbourhood policy, defence, security and home affairs but also to climate change and human rights protection. Human rights, as well as financial aids' management and development are integral parts of the security and defence field. According to Ms Moody “they are a part of the whole picture”, even if there is a tendency to separate them.

Cécilia and Sara with MEP Claire Moody

« Diversity is essential in effective delivery »

Naturally, the lack of gender balance in the sector has been raised during the conversation. According to the MEP, it is an issue that has to be addressed as she considers that “diversity is essential in effective delivery”. Plurality becomes especially precious in specific contexts where operatives on the ground need to cooperate with local women. In this regard, she evoked the Afghan case where, during a mission that required information from opium foragers, the presence of women soldiers has been crucial for the success of the operation.


« Too many photographs of European or NATO summits are made up of rows of grey suits. Too often women remain on the sidelines of key discussions, negotiations and decision-making in foreign policy. »

This event has not only been the opportunity to interact with a renowned expert in the European security and defence sector, but also the occasion to know WIIS and create a bridge with the College of Europe. As a key actor of the Brussels security and gender discussion, WIIS is a network committed to women empowerment and gender balance in the areas of defence, security and international affairs. WIIS’ initiative starts with the observation that “too many photographs of European or NATO summits are made up of rows of grey suits.” The image speaks for itself, significant progress needs to be made as “too often women remain on the sidelines of key discussions, negotiations and decision-making in foreign policy”. The College represents an encouraging starting point.


For students willing to explore the topics of security and defence, WIIS represents a valuable platform to engage with female leaders working in a field traditionally dominated by men. During the second semester different activities will be organised with the collaboration of WIIS Brussels and the students societies European Security and Defence Network (ESDN) and Student Association for Gender Equality (SAGE).


The more, the merrier - Issue n. 2, 9 November 2018


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