EU defence chiefs want Supreme Commander as Chairman

On Wednesday the Supreme Commander, Håkan Syrén, was nominated as Sweden’s candidate for the chairmanship of the EU Military Committee (EUMC) in succession to General Bentégeat.“I see the choice of Håkan Syrén as a clear indication that Sweden’s active role in matters concerning the EU’s common security and defence policy is genuinely appreciated. It has therefore been both natural and important that the government should support this nomination in the EU members’ forum,” says Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors.

General Bentégeat and the Swedish Supreme Commander Håkan Syrén. Photo: Andreas Karlsson / Försvarets bildbyrå

The Chairman of the EUMC is the highest-ranking military officer in the EU. The position is currently held by General Henri Bentégeat from France. At a press conference following the meeting of 27 European defence chiefs in Brussels on Wednesday, General Bentégeat announced the decision to nominate Håkan Syrén as his successor.

“I am pleased to be able to announce that the Committee will be recommending to the Council that Sweden’s current Supreme Commander, General Håkan Syrén, should be appointed to this post when I step down at the end of my three year tenure in November next year,” said General Bentégeat.

Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors considers that this appointment involves one of the most challenging EU tasks ever to be undertaken by a Swede.

“It is very gratifying that the EU member states have backed Håkan Syrén as the next Chairman of the EU Military Committee. It is also a mark of the very high regard in which Håkan Syrén is held personally. It is important to stress, however, that this recommendation by the EU defence chiefs has to be formally endorsed by a Council resolution,” the Defence Minister points out.

The formal appointment will be made by the Council of the European Union, provisionally on 10 November.

“Naturally I am very gratified by the trust that the Military Committee has in Sweden, and in me personally, as expressed in this recommendation,” says Håkan Syrén in a comment on the Brussels decision.

The Supreme Commander’s current appointment runs until December next year.
“As I understand it, this new task will mean leaving my present post somewhat early. Exactly when that will be is not yet clear,” adds Håkan Syrén.

The EUMC was established in the year 2000. The Committee is an advisory military body  within the EU, its membership consisting of a Chairman and the defence chiefs of the EU member states.

“The continuing development of the EU Security and Defence Policy entails major challenges. These are challenges that touch both on the realisation of the EU’s strong ambitions where crisis management is concerned and on strengthening Europe’s overall capability in the longer term. It should be remembered that the concept of a European defence policy was in fact only launched less than a decade ago and that, not least under the present French chairmanship, it is still in the process of evolving,” says Håkan Syrén.