EU coun­tries sign key de­fence pact

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

Brus­sels, Bel­gium - The EU took a step to­wards closer de­fence ties on Mon­day, with 23 states sign­ing a land­mark pact aim­ing to boost co­op­er­a­tion af­ter Brexit and as Rus­sia flexes its mus­cles to the east. The per­ma­nent struc­tured co­op­er­a­tion on de­fence agree­ment (PESCO) seeks to im­prove EU co­or­di­na­tion on de­fence and weapons sys­tems de­vel­op­ment.

It is part of ef­forts led by Ger­many and France to re­boot the Euro­pean Union af­ter Britain’s shock de­ci­sion to quit and fol­lows the an­nounce­ment in June of a € 5.5bn Euro­pean De­fence Fund. The EU’s diplo­matic chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini hailed the agree­ment as ‘a new page of Euro­pean de­fence’.

Sim­i­lar ef­forts to deepen mil­i­tary links have been frus­trated for decades, partly by Britain’s fierce op­po­si­tion to any­thing that might lead to a Euro­pean army.

But Brexit and Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea in 2014 has once again brought the need for a strong Euro­pean se­cu­rity stance back into fo­cus.

The shift in US pol­icy un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump - who be­rated Euro­pean part­ners on mil­i­tary spend­ing at a NATO sum­mit in May - has also led many to ques­tion whether Wash­ing­ton can be re­lied upon to pro­tect Eu­rope as it has in the past. “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. “This is com­ple­men­tary to NATO, but we also see that no­body will solve the se­cu­rity prob­lems that Eu­rope has in its neigh­bour­hood - we have to do it our­selves.”


EU For­eign Pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini (cen­tre) poses with for­eign and de­fence min­is­ters from EU states in Brus­sels on Mon­day

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Oman

© PressReader. All rights reserved.