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EU Countries Take Step Toward Deeper Security Cooperation

EU Countries Take Step Toward Deeper Security Cooperation

European Union officials insist this is not just bureaucratic cooperation, but real investment that will help develop Europe's defense industry and spur research and development in military capabilities that the bloc needs most.

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.

"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.

All EU countries except Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Malta and Portugal said Monday they would sign up to the pact, which will be officially launched at a summit next month.

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.

"This is the beginning of a common work - 23 member states engaging both on capabilities and on operational steps, that's something big", Mogherini said.

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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. 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.

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

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. "The real problem is not how much we spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner".

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

Attendees pose for group photos after signing a pact on joint defense cooperation at the headquarters of the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, Nov. 13, 2017.


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