European Union states to sign joint defence pact

On November 13 ministers from 23 EU member states signed a joint notification on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and handed it over to the High Representative and the Council, Armenpress reports citing the EU Council's official website.

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. Countries not signing up on Monday will be able to join PESCO later, and the deal also includes provisions for non-EU members, which would include Britain, to take part in specific projects.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, center left, speaks with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, center right, during a meeting of European Union foreign and defense ministers at the Europa building in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.

Former UKIP leader Diane James MEP has suggested that, "as the EU Common Defence Fund is being launched way before Brexit, the UK will be providing 13 per cent of the cash" - although this is not yet fully confirmed.

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.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed the decision as a "historic moment in European defence".

Those not living up to their commitments could be kicked out of the group. "Member States have presented already more than 50 concrete projects both in the field of capabilities and in the field of operations".

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

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

Gabriel said working together is "more economical than if everyone does the same".

Defence experts said the success of the new project would only be clear when Paris and Berlin resolved their competing visions for European-wide military cooperation.

  • Tracy Klein