Poland decides to join EU's PESCO defense project

EU to sign defence pact may allow limited British role

EU to sign defence pact may allow limited British role

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

The new initiative aims to spend more on defense systems and make member countries' militaries much more integrated with each other.

"I'm a firm believer of stronger European defense, so I welcome PESCO because I believe that it can strengthen European defense, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO", Stoltenberg said.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said it was important for Europe to stand on its own feet when it comes to security and defense - "especially after the election of the US President", referring to President Donald Trump's dismissive attitude towards North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"It's going to be quite a historic day for European defense", EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters before the meeting in Brussels at which ministers approved the plan.

Britain - which is leaving the European Union anyway - and Denmark have refused to take part on defence grounds. 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... He said Europe spends 50 percent as much as the United States on defense yet only has 15 percent of its military efficiency.

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 Germans say respect unity and proceed modestly at the start with all these little projects - they won't help the EU's independent capacity", Mr Mauro said.

"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.

Ms Mogherini said the move would complement Nato's security aims. Its impending departure from the bloc has given fresh impetus to closer European Union defence cooperation and in March ministers approved plans to create an embryonic military headquarters to coordinate European Union overseas operations.

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