European Union to launch joint defence plan14/11/17Defence
Most of the European Union’s member states have signed up to a plan for closer defence co-operation.
The UK and Ireland are among five states not participating.
The other 23-member states are now committed to the permanent structured military co-operation (PESCO) plan to boost their defence budgets and joint capabilities.
EU forces have been deployed in some hotspots, including the Central African Republic and Kosovo, but in some cases they have been short of funding and equipment.
Under PESCO, each country will have to provide a plan for national contributions.
The participants will be backed by a European Defence Fund that should be worth €5bn annually after 2020. The money will be used for weapons research and equipment purchases.
Deployment decisions would remain in the hands of national governments, a European Council statement said. PESCO does not replace member states’ participation in NATO or UN missions.
EU Vice-President Federica Mogherini described it as an “historic moment in European defence”, adding that “23 member states engaging both on capabilities and on operational steps is something big”.
Those who didn’t sign up can join later if they choose.
Under PESCO, EU countries will commit to increase military spending, but not to specifically adhere to NATO’s bottom line of moving toward 2% of GDP for defence budgets by 2020.
By working together on joint projects, nations will be able to use their combined spending weight to purchase much-needed capabilities like air transport or drones.