EU Ministers Sign Landmark Defense Agreement

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.

German Foreign Minister Gabriel lauded the agreement as "a great step toward self-sufficiency and strengthening the European Union's security and defense policy - really a milestone in European development". The PESCO drive however has revealed strains between Paris and Berlin, with the French pushing for a smaller group of nations committed to ambitious projects and Germany wanting a more inclusive arrangement with as numerous bloc's 27 members - minus Britain - as possible. He said Europe spends 50 percent as much as the United States on defense yet only has 15 percent of its military efficiency.

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

France was initially keen for a smaller group of nations that would more readily commit to possible foreign interventions such as in Libya or Mali.

He explained that tomorrow, during the Foreign Affairs and Defence Council in Brussels, those member states who intend to join PESCO are expected to jointly sign the notification letter addressed to the Council and the High Representative. "It has no chance of working".

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Their signatures are a sign of political will but the program will only enter force once it's been legally endorsed, probably in December.

She added the European Union countries could bring political and financial clout to bear on security challenges, such as the use of development aid in Africa, where North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has no real foothold. At launch the focus will be project-driven such as the development new military equipment such as tanks or drones. The notice of intent to be inked in Brussels on Monday, seen by AFP, includes a pledge to "regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms" as well as commitments to devote 20 percent of defence spending on procurement and two percent on research and technology.

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

Mogherini said the move would complement NATO's security aims.

  • Megan Austin