European Union states sign key pact to boost defence cooperation

European Union states sign key pact to boost defence cooperation

European Union states sign key pact to boost defence cooperation

PESCO is meant to lead to deeper military cooperation within the European Union, project financing, development of military technology and strengthening of the EU's defense industry. Mogherini, EU military chiefs and the European Defence Agency will then evaluate whether the plans are being respected.

There are strong indications that British officials are pushing hard for the United Kingdom to be included in the Permanent Structured Cooperation process, or PESCO, which is key to the Defence Union plans set out by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker recently.

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.

"I'm a firm believer of stronger European defence, so I welcome PESCO because I believe that it can strengthen European defence, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO", Stoltenberg said.

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.

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Ministers attending the signing ceremony made clear that while the arrangement would not replace North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, it was a product of concern over America's shifting foreign policy.

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

Their signatures are a sign of political will but the program will only enter force once it's been legally endorsed, probably in December. He added that PESCO will remain open to all member states, and noted that it is important that its objectives are achievable regardless of the size of the countries involved.

The agreement commits countries to "regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms" as well as devoting 20 per cent of defence spending to procurement and 2 per cent to research and technology.

Mrs Mogherini said that by coordinating their efforts, European countries would get better value for money in defence. "We are leaving the European Union but not Europe, and regional security remains top of our agenda in the face of increased Russian assertiveness", said Lord Howe, the defence minister.

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