Mogherini hails 'historic' European Union defense pact as 23 countries sign up

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini

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".

Twenty-three of the EU's 28 member nations signed up to the process, known as permanent structured cooperation, or PESCO.

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.

PESCO obligates European Union member states to cooperate more and more systematically: increasing defense spending, making their units available for European Union operations, creating common military powers and strengthening the defense industry.

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. Whereas Ireland, Portugal and Malta have not yet decided whether to join the initiative, Denmark and the United Kingdom are not expected to participate. "Member states have taken a solid step toward a more integrated Europe, and the outcomes of this cooperation will help to ensure a more secure Europe for its citizens as well as strengthen the pillar of the European Union in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".


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.

"It was important for us, especially after the election of the American President, that we can organise ourselves independently as Europeans", German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

EU diplomats told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that Britain's decision past 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.

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

Projects that are likely to be considered in the upcoming years are a European medical command and a network of logistics hubs in Europe, the creation of a European crisis response center, and joint training of military officers.

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