European Union member states sign joint notification on deepening defense cooperation

Poland decides to join EU's PESCO defense project

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the signing of PESCO as a "historic moment in European defense". Whereas Ireland, Portugal and Malta have not yet decided whether to join the initiative, Denmark and the United Kingdom are not expected to participate.

"Today, after so many years, the provision of the Lisbon Treaty establishing the possibility for the European Union member states to have a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defense is going to be initiated", Mogherini told reporters upon her arrival for the council.

Europe vowed to turn a new page on security cooperation on Monday as 23 states came together to sign a mutual defence pact created to transform military operations.

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Meeting in Brussels on November 13, the foreign and defense ministers of France, Germany, and 21 other member states signed a notification of their intention to establish the Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defense, or PESCO. "The real problem is not how much we spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner". Mogherini, EU military chiefs and the European Defence Agency will then evaluate whether the plans are being respected.

The Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence agreement (Pesco) seeks to improve European Union coordination on defence and weapons systems development. The move, driven by France and Germany, is misguided.

President Donald Trump berated European partners on military spending at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in May. 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 American-led military alliance does not have at its disposal.

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The agreement envisions a Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, which is meant to give the European Union a more coherent role in tackling worldwide crises, follows the announcement of a $6.4-billion European Defense Fund last June. At launch the focus will be project-driven such as the development new military equipment such as tanks or drones.

Participants have signed up to a list of commitments which "include increasing the share of expenditure allocated to defense research and technology with a view to nearing the 2 percent of total defense spending" and to "regularly increasing defense budgets in real terms".

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