122nd Presidium Meeting and Extraordinary Congress
On 22 and 23 October 2020, delegates from member and observer associations of EUROMIL participated in a virtual Extraordinary Congress and the 122nd Presidium Meeting. EUROMIL holds Presidium Meetings twice every year. The Presidium approves the policy of the Board and provides impetus for the prospective further development of EUROMIL policy. It decides on the accession of member associations and approves the budget.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the meetings were held online. On 22 October, the Extraordinary Congress convened and approved a motion to postpone the originally planned 6th Congress until spring 2021, as Congress proceedings with important decisions and votes appeared rather difficult to organise fully online.
In the afternoon of 22 October 2020, the President of EUROMIL, Emmanuel Jacob, opened the Presidium Meeting by thanking delegates for their online presence.
Subsequently, EUROMIL held an online discussion on “Lessons learned and recommendations from the COVID-19 pandemic”. This internal plenary discussion addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on European armed forces and their personnel. It aimed at identifying lessons learned from the current health crisis and making recommendations to policy-makers at both national and European levels on how to take better care of military personnel while at the same time ensuring the good functioning of the armed forces in times of crisis and beyond.
President Jacob, who moderated the discussion, highlighted that from the start of the crisis, military personnel have been involved, not only as victims, but as helpers, for the people and society. They were involved in logistics, medical support, and the enforcement of measures to contain the spread of the virus. Their involvement in the fight against COVID-19 was never put into question. However, certain images, such as the one of soldiers transporting dead bodies in trucks, will never be forgotten. Helping those who help is thus absolutely necessary and EUROMIL believes it is fair to discuss issues of health and support to military personnel in this specific situation.
Further to this introduction, panellists, namely Roger Housen (ACMP-CGPM, Belgium), Fidel Gomez (AUME, Spain), Derek Priestley (RACO, Ireland) and Jan Paulech (ZVSR, Slovakia) presented the views of their respective association on the matter in discussion.
Participating delegates from EUROMIL member associations were then requested to share views by taking stock of the situation and delivering a forward-looking response to current challenges.
Finally, the issue of European and international cooperation was examined. Participants agreed that the EU military staff and structures should play a role in the present crisis.
On 23 October 2020, delegates discussed internal reports as well as the budget of the organisation. Delegates approved the position paper on Veterans as well as the Recommendations on the Handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the armed forces.
The Presidium also approved the request of the Bulgarian association BUAFWA and the Romanian association LMP to become full members as well as the request of the Irish association RDFRA to become observer. With RDFRA, the first association representing only reserve personnel joins EUROMIL. This will be a new challenge but also an opportunity for EUROMIL. Also reserve personnel needs organisations to protect their social rights and working conditions and EUROMIL looks forward to working together on these issues. EUROMIL now counts 33 associations from 21 countries.
The next Presidium Meeting will be held in April 2021 in Brussels, Belgium (if possible in line with the relevant COVID-19 related health and safety guidelines).