PESCO: EU paves way to defense union

Poland decides to join EU's PESCO defense project

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. Whereas Ireland, Portugal and Malta have not yet decided whether to join the initiative, Denmark and the United Kingdom are not expected to participate.

The adoption of the Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defence agreement (PESCO) comes as the British negotiate their exit from the European Union, removing London's opposition to structures that rivalled North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"It's going to be quite a historic day for European defense", EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters before the meeting in Brussels at which ministers approved the plan.

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 will be able to use their combined spending weight to purchase much needed capabilities like air transport or drones.

He explained that PESCO's structure will be more on a defence level.

EU diplomats told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that Britain's decision previous year to quit the bloc and U.S. President Donald Trump's push for European allies to raise their contributions to the defense of the continent have prompted EU members to act.

Speaking to the press on Sunday, following a memorial event in Nicosia district, the Minister said that the government looks forward to creating the conditions for the presence of a European Defence Force that will strengthen Cyprus' defence shield.

Mrs Mogherini said the move would not only complement Nato's security aims but fill in gaps in the Atlantic alliance.

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".

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

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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