European Union states sign key pact to boost defence cooperation

Pauline Gross
November 14, 2017

At that the member states retain their sovereign right to leading their own national defense.

France and Germany proposed the initiative past year as part of their efforts to breathe new life into the European project after Britain voted to leave the bloc.

This permanent framework for defence cooperation will allow those member states willing and able to jointly develop defence capabilities, invest in shared projects, or enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

Meeting in Brussels on November 13, the foreign and defense ministers of France, Germany, and 21 other member states signed a notification of their intention to establish the Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defense, or PESCO.

The notification letter - co-authored by France, Germany, Italy, and Spain - described the pact as "an ambitious, binding, and inclusive European legal framework for investment in the security and defense of the EU's territory and its citizens". By the time of the summit, diplomats expect only Britain, Denmark and Malta not to be involved.

The United Kingdom, which is scheduled to leave the European Union in 2019, is not part of PESCO either but can still choose to take part in certain aspects even after Brexit - if that participation is of benefit to the entire EU.

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PESCO will not compete with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, as the latter specialises in collective defence, whereas bolstered defence cooperation among Europeans is created to ensure that the EU can respond to various situations overseas in a more prompt and efficient manner, claim European diplomats.

Under the scheme, European Union member states will be able to develop greater military capabilities, invest in joint projects and increase the readiness of their troops.

EU diplomats told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that Britain's decision past year to quit the bloc and U.S. President Donald Trump's push for European allies to raise their contributions to the defense of the continent have prompted EU members to act.

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

Member states participating in PESCO will aim to simplify the transportation of military supplies and units within Europe, which is an important goal for Estonia.

Other reports by GizPress

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