Long blocked by Britain, which opposed the creation of an European Union army, the defense integration drive was revived by France after the election of pro-European Emmanuel Macron as president, and Germany after Britons voted in June 2016 to leave the EU.
The pact, which has been in the works for more than a year, is part of efforts led by Germany and France to push closer defense ties as a way of rebooting the bloc after Britain's referendum to leave. Denmark has a defence opt-out from European Union treaties while Portugal, Ireland and Malta have not made a formal decision to join.
European Union Foreign Ministers, who are meeting on Monday in Brussels, will hear EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini report on her recent lobbying trip to the us on the Iran nuclear deal.
The new initiative aims to spend more on defense systems and make member countries' militaries much more integrated with each other.The move, driven by France and Germany, is misguided.
He explained that PESCO's structure will be more on a defence level.
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On his way into the meeting, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the pact "a very important step", recalling that there was "little enthusiasm" when it was first mooted.
"It has clear outlines, so we're confident that it will garner significant support", said Gajdoš, who hopes to draw resources from the newly created European Defence Fund for its budgeting, with an eye towards cutting the financial onus that it will put on Bratislava. "I think that European cooperation on defense questions will rather contribute to saving money - we have about 50 percent of the United States' defense spending in Europe, but only 15 percent of the efficiency".
The agreement envisions a Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, which is meant to give the European Union a more coherent role in tackling global crises, follows the announcement of a $6.4-billion European Defense Fund last June.
Estonian Defense Minister Jüri Luik said the main focus of the new initiative would be defense industries as "collective defense will always remain in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".
The member states who signed the joint notification are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.