European Union launches new era in defense cooperation

Nov 14, 2017, 00:54
European Union launches new era in defense cooperation

France and Germany proposed the initiative past year as part of their efforts to breathe new life into the European project after Britain voted to leave the bloc.

She said PESCO, backed by the European Union defense fund, "will enable member states to use the economy of scale of Europe and in this manner to fulfil the gap of output that we have".

"The UK as a full participating member-state has a veto but hasn't used it".

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Pesco could, in theory, lead to the creation of a European operational headquarters or logistics base, but will first focus on projects to develop new military equipment such as tanks or drones.

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.

France and Germany are one step closer to achieving a decades old goal of integrating European defenses. But, he said, "we must go further" in defense cooperation.

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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. Member states participating in PESCO retain the sovereign right to command their own national defense, and the capabilities developed within PESCO will belong to the member states, who will be able to use them as they wish, regardless of the format, including in fulfilling their own national needs and those of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel stressed it would have economic benefits. "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". "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.

The 23 countries that announced their intention to take part in the new initiative are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

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