Mogherini hails 'historic' European Union defense pact as 23 countries sign up

14 November, 2017, 00:30 | Author: Brenda Erickson

Twenty-three countries have declared they will participate in a new EU defense cooperation pact, part of a broader push to advance European integration, officials said Monday.

The pact, which has been in the works for more than a year, is part of efforts led by Germany and France to push closer defense ties as a way of rebooting the bloc after Britain's referendum to leave.

The European Union took a step towards closer defence ties yesterday, with 23 states signing a landmark pact aiming to boost cooperation after Brexit and as Russian Federation flexes its muscles to the east.

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. By the time of the summit, diplomats expect only Britain, Denmark and Malta not to be involved.

Countries that are not in the European Union could take part in specific missions, opening the way to possible participation by Britain after Brexit - though they will have no role in decision-making.

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There are strong indications that British officials are pushing hard for the United Kingdom to be included in the Permanent Structured Cooperation process, or PESCO, which is key to the Defence Union plans set out by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker recently.

Also, warnings by U.S. President Donald Trump that European allies must pay more towards their security seemed to have propelled the project forward.

"I'm a firm believer of stronger European defense, so I welcome PESCO because I believe that it can strengthen European defense, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO", Stoltenberg said. Member states participating in PESCO retain the sovereign right to command their own national defense, and the capabilities developed within PESCO will belong to the member states, who will be able to use them as they wish, regardless of the format, including in fulfilling their own national needs and those of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

With the notification signed, a final decision to launch the defense cooperation framework is expected in December.

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



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