Thursday, 23 November, 2017

European Union signs landmark new defence pact

Poland decides to join EU's PESCO defense project Luik: PESCO helps to ensure a more secure Europe
Dexter Carr | 14 November, 2017, 00:29

Defense ministers of 23 European Union member states Monday signed a pact to on joint defense cooperation and handed it over to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

All EU countries except Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Malta and Portugal said Monday they would sign up to the pact, which will be officially launched at a summit next month.

Long blocked by Britain, which opposed the creation of an European Union army, the defense integration drive was revived by France after the election of pro-European Emmanuel Macron as president, and Germany after Britons voted in June 2016 to leave the EU.

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.

Germany and France have backed plans to reboot EU defence operations, including an announcement in June of a 5.5-billion euro European Defence Fund.

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"The real problem is not how much we spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner", Mogherini said.

Poland has made a decision to join the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the field of defense within the EU.

Meeting in Brussels on November 13, the foreign and defense ministers of France, Germany, and 21 other member states signed a notification of their intention to establish the Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defense, or PESCO. The move, driven by France and Germany, is misguided. "I think that European cooperation on defense questions will rather contribute to saving money - we have about 50 percent of the United States' defense spending in Europe, but only 15 percent of the efficiency".

The shift in United States policy under President Donald Trump - who berated European partners on military spending at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in May - has also led many to question whether Washington can be relied upon to protect Europe as it has in the past. But, he said, "we must go further" in defense cooperation.

The agreement also commits countries to "regularly increasing defense budgets in real terms" as well as devoting 20 percent of defense spending to procurement and two percent to research and technology.

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