Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

European Union members ink landmark defense agreement

European Union members ink landmark defense agreement

On Monday, around 20 other European Union member states will sign the declaration, Polish Press Agency (PAP) reported Friday.

Similar efforts to deepen military links have been frustrated for decades, partly by Britain's fierce opposition to anything that might lead to a European army.

Membership of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative will present an opportunity for Slovakia to bolster its defence capabilities, both for national purposes and in meeting its worldwide commitments, said Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) who signed an intention for Slovakia to join PESCO along with State Secretary for Foreign and European Affairs, Ivan Korčok, in Brussels on November 13.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed the decision as a "historic moment in European defense".

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But Brexit and Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 have once again brought the need for a strong European security stance back into focus.

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.

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 EU can also bring its political and financial weight to bear on security challenges, such as the use of development aid in Africa, where North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has no real foothold.

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The agreement also commits countries to "regularly increasing defense budgets in real terms" as well as devoting 20 percent of defense spending to procurement and two percent to research and technology.

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

It pledges that countries will provide "substantial support" in such areas as personnel, equipment, training, and infrastructure for European Union military missions.

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