Thursday, 14 December, 2017

EU Ministers Sign Landmark Defense Agreement

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini EU ministers to sign notification for deepening defense cooperation
Sammy Stanley | 13 November, 2017, 19:54

The agreement is part of efforts led by Germany and France to push closer defence ties as a way of rebooting the bloc after Britain's shock vote to leave and follows the announcement in June of a European Defence Fund that will receive 5.5 billion euros (S$8.7 billion) annually.

"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.

"The UK as a full participating member-state has a veto but hasn't used it".

The UK had always resisted the idea of joint EU defense, fearing some kind of big "European army", but the country's planned exit from the bloc has removed that hurdle, allowing 23 other EU countries to move forward.

Germany wanted as many countries as possible to sign up but wants to keep the focus on more modest schemes.

Despite backing Brexit during the European Union referendum, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has indicated that he plans on Britain being involved in at least some capacity, telling reporters: "We are there, like a flying buttress to support the cathedral".

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The government had exempted women, government officials and two-wheelers from the rationing. Schools in Delhi reopened today after being for closed for three days due to severe smog.

With the notification signed, a final decision to launch the defence cooperation framework is expected in December.

Countries not signing up on Monday will be able to join Pesco later, and the deal also includes provisions for non-EU members, which would include Britain, to take part in specific projects. "It has no chance of working".

"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.

Britain - a nuclear power with permanent veto power at the UN Security Council - has always been fiercely opposed to anything that might lead to the creation of an "EU army" commanded by Brussels.

Mrs Mogherini said the move would not only complement Nato's security aims but fill in gaps in the Atlantic alliance.

United States president's Donald Trump's frequent accusations that European Union countries do not pay enough into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has been one catalyst for them move forward with a unified plan for military cooperation. "This could develop new products and help increase efficiency in Europe".

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