Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

European Union takes step towards closer defence cooperation

European Union takes step towards closer defence cooperation

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.

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.

"It was important for us especially after the election of the American president that we can organise ourselves independently as Europeans", German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed the decision as a "historic moment in European defense".

Ceremonial signing of the declaration at a Monday joint meeting of EU's foreign and defense ministers is the last formal step before PESCO's official launch during the EU's December summit.

"Today, after so many years, the provision of the Lisbon Treaty establishing the possibility for the European Union member states to have a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defense is going to be initiated", Mogherini told reporters upon her arrival for the council.

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Mogherini said countries have already submitted more than 50 joint projects in the fields of defense capabilities and military operations.

Defence experts said the success of the new project would only be clear when Paris and Berlin resolved their competing visions for European-wide military cooperation.

Under PESCO, EU countries will commit to increase military spending, but not to specifically adhere to NATO's bottom line of moving towards 2 percent of gross domestic product for defense budgets by 2020.

By working together on joint projects, nations hope to use their combined spending power to overcome capability gaps, jointly buying equipment like air transporters or drones.

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

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".

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