EU Countries Take "Historic" Step Toward Defence Union

13 November, 2017, 19:37 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Poland decides to join EU's PESCO defense project

"We are agreeing on the future cooperation on security and defence issues ... it's really a milestone in European development", he added.

Long blocked by Britain, which opposed the creation of an European Union army, the defense integration drive was revived by France after the election of pro-European Emmanuel Macron as president, and Germany after Britons voted in June 2016 to leave the EU.

In all just five member nations failed to sign up to the process, known as permanent structured cooperation, or PESCO. Ireland, Portugal and Malta have also not signed up.

PESCO obligates European Union member states to cooperate more and more systematically: increasing defense spending, making their units available for European Union operations, creating common military powers and strengthening the defense industry. "By engaging in defense cooperation, member states want and are able to achieve visible results". This has led to unease by European allies that the USA was not committed to the alliance's mutual defence pact. Mogherini, EU military chiefs and the European Defence Agency will then evaluate whether the plans are being respected.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the commitment to launching PESCO, noting that he saw it as a way to "strengthen the European pillar within NATO".

Mrs Mogherini said the move would not only complement Nato's security aims but fill in gaps in the Atlantic alliance.

The EU can also bring its political and financial weight to bear on security challenges, such as the use of development aid in Africa, where North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has no real foothold.

A first list of projects to be undertaken within the PESCO framework should be agreed by the participating member states once PESCO has been established.

By working together on joint projects, nations will be able to use their combined spending weight to purchase much-needed capabilities like air transport or drones. He said Europe spends 50 percent as much as the United States on defense yet only has 15 percent of its military efficiency.

Gabriel said working together is "more economical than if everyone does the same".

Speaking to the press on Sunday, following a memorial event in Nicosia district, the Minister said that the government looks forward to creating the conditions for the presence of a European Defence Force that will strengthen Cyprus' defence shield.

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