European Union member states sign declaration of intent for increasing defense cooperation

European Union member states sign declaration of intent for increasing defense cooperation

Member states participating in PESCO will aim to simplify the transportation of military supplies and units within Europe, which is an important goal for Estonia.

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

The pact will allow member states to jointly develop defence capabilities, invest in joint projects and enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

The PESCO agreement was signed on Monday by the foreign and defence ministers of all European Union countries except Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal and Malta. By the time of the summit, diplomats expect only Britain, Denmark and Malta not to be involved.

Trump has criticized other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members that fail to meet the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense spending target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product.

"It will primarily depend on France and Germany's ability to address short term technical issues, such as the definition of ambitious projects and the monitoring of the countries' commitments, and to focus on the concrete military effects of this initiative", said the European Leadership Network think tank in a research note.

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

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. Britain can take part in some if they are of benefit to the entire EU. These include the establishment of an European Union defense headquarters for training missions in Somalia, Mali and Central African Republic, a pilot project to coordinate national budgets to identify capability shortfalls, and the new military pact.

"Today we are taking a historic step", boasted German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel.

Mrs Mogherini said that by coordinating their efforts, European countries would get better value for money in defence. He said Europe spends 50 percent as much as the United States on defense yet only has 15 percent of its military efficiency.

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