European Union member states sign joint notification on deepening defense cooperation

Ireland, Portugal and Malta are still in the process of deciding whether to join.

Led by France and Germany, the pact pledges 23 European Union member-states to a Common Defence Fund which will see them develop and deploy armed forces together, Reuters reports.

The goal of PESCO is to further increase defense cooperation between member states, to encourage larger defense investments, to facilitate the availability of military capabilities for European Union operations, to strengthen defense cooperation between member states, and to decrease capability gaps.

"In a nutshell, we have had six EU Council meetings over the past year where United Kingdom officials have agreed various aspects of the Defence Union", he told reporters. "The real problem is not how much we spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner". But, he said, "we must go further" in defense cooperation.

On November 13 ministers from 23 EU member states signed a joint notification on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and handed it over to the High Representative and the Council, Armenpress reports citing the EU Council's official website.

The notification letter - co-authored by France, Germany, Italy, and Spain - described the pact as "an ambitious, binding, and inclusive European legal framework for investment in the security and defense of the EU's territory and its citizens".

There are strong indications that British officials are pushing hard for the United Kingdom to be included in the Permanent Structured Cooperation process, or PESCO, which is key to the Defence Union plans set out by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker recently.

Ministers attending the signing ceremony made clear that while the arrangement would not replace North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, it was a product of concern over America's shifting foreign policy.

This has led to unease by European allies that the US was not committed to the alliance's mutual defense pact.

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

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".

  • Rogelio Becker