European Union member states sign joint notification on deepening defense cooperation

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

The so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco) is designed in the first instance to facilitate joint investments in defence procurement and research and to project the...

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

This permanent framework for defence cooperation will allow those member states willing and able to jointly develop defence capabilities, invest in shared projects, or enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

Mogherini said countries have already submitted more than 50 joint projects in the fields of defense capabilities and military operations. 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. Britain, which is leaving the European Union in 2019, and Denmark with a defense opt-out were among those not taking part.

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.

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.

The signed notification of intention was submitted to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. The EU, she said, has tools to fight hybrid warfare - the use of conventional weapons mixed with things like propaganda and cyber-attacks - that the military alliance does not have at its disposal.

Under PESCO, EU countries will commit to increase military spending, but not to specifically adhere to NATO's bottom line of moving towards 2 percent of gross domestic product for defense budgets by 2020.

"We are agreeing on the future cooperation on security and defence issues ... it's really a milestone in European development", he added.

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