EU launches new era in defense cooperation
BRUSSELS: EU countries on Monday officially launched a new era in defense cooperation with a program of joint military investment and project development aimed at helping the EU confront its security challenges.
Twenty-three of the EU’s 28 member nations signed up to the process, known as permanent structured cooperation, or PESCO. Britain, which is leaving the EU in 2019, and Denmark with a defense opt-out were among those not taking part.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described it as a “historic moment in European defense,” and added that “23 member states engaging booth on capabilities and on operational steps is something big.” Those who did not sign up can join later.
Mogherini said countries have already submitted more than 50 joint projects in the fields of defense capabilities and military operations. Britain can take part in some if they are of benefit to the entire EU.
She said PESCO, backed by the EU defense fund, “will enable member states to use the economy of scale of Europe and in this manner to fulfil the gap of output that we have.”
Their signatures are a sign of political will but the program will only enter force once it has been legally endorsed, probably in December.
German Foreign Minister Gabriel lauded the agreement as “a great step toward self-sufficiency and strengthening the EU’s security and defense policy — really a milestone in European development.”
Under the cooperation, member countries will submit an action plan outlining their defense aims. Mogherini, EU military chiefs and the European Defense Agency will then evaluate whether the plans are being respected.