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European Union members ink landmark defense agreement

14 November 2017, 12:29 | Darnell Patrick

European Union members ink landmark defense agreement

European Union members ink landmark defense agreement

PESCO membership will also bring closer cooperation with the militaries of other European Union members.

It is part of efforts led by Germany and France to reboot the EU after Britain's decision to leave and follows the announcement in June of a €5.5 billion (S$8.7 billion) European Defence Fund.

By working together on joint projects, nations hope to use their combined spending power to overcome capability gaps, jointly buying equipment like air transporters or drones.

The EU's diplomatic chief, Ms Federica Mogherini, hailed the agreement as "a new page of European defence", saying countries had already proposed more than 50 projects.

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

He explained that PESCO's structure will be more on a defence level. Denmark has a defence opt-out from European Union treaties while Portugal, Ireland and Malta have not made a formal decision to join.

"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.

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.

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Germany wanted as many countries as possible to sign up but wants to keep the focus on more modest schemes.

The notification letter - co-authored by France, Germany, Italy, and Spain - described the pact as "an ambitious, binding, and inclusive European legal framework for investment in the security and defense of the EU's territory and its citizens". "It has no chance of working". This could take place at the next Foreign Affairs Council on 11th December.

This has led to unease by European allies that the USA was not committed to the alliance's mutual defense pact.

The EU can also bring its political and financial weight to bear on security challenges, such as the use of development aid in Africa, where North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has no real foothold.

Ultimately Pesco could be overseen by a European operational headquarters or logistics base.

The joint notification is the first formal step to set up the PESCO.

Participants have signed up to a list of commitments which "include increasing the share of expenditure allocated to defense research and technology with a view to nearing the 2 percent of total defense spending" and to "regularly increasing defense budgets in real terms".

Ms Mogherini said that by coordinating their efforts, European countries would get better value for money in defence.



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