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.

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