European Union countries sign defense pact on permanent structured cooperation

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini

On Monday, the two nations signed a defense pact with 21 other European Union member states.

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.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described it as a "historic moment in European defense", and added that "23 member states engaging booth on capabilities and on operational steps is something big".

Apart from Britain, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland and Malta have yet to decide whether to join the pact.

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 USA on the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump has criticized other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members that fail to meet the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense spending target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product.

Speaking to the press on Sunday, following a memorial event in Nicosia district, the Minister said that the government looks forward to creating the conditions for the presence of a European Defence Force that will strengthen Cyprus' defence shield.

"It will primarily depend on France and Germany's ability to address short term technical issues, such as the definition of ambitious projects and the monitoring of the countries' commitments, and to focus on the concrete military effects of this initiative", said the European Leadership Network think tank in a research note.

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.

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

She said PESCO, backed by the European Union defense fund, "will enable member states to use the economy of scale of Europe and in this manner to fulfil the gap of output that we have".

Earlier this year, the European Commission launched a major financial incentive for countries to cooperate on defense procurement, with a new European Defense fund worth €5.5 billion per year.

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