A general view on a plenary hall as 23 EU member states sign the notification on Permanent Structure Cooperation (PESCO) on the margin of a foreign affairs council at the European Council.
Europe vowed to turn a new page on security cooperation on Monday as 23 states came together to sign a mutual defence pact created to transform military operations.
Member states participating in PESCO will aim to simplify the transportation of military supplies and units within Europe, which is an important goal for Estonia.
Ceremonial signing of the declaration at a Monday joint meeting of EU's foreign and defense ministers is the last formal step before PESCO's official launch during the EU's December summit. At that the member states retain their sovereign right to leading their own national defense. Britain can take part in some if they are of benefit to the entire EU. 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.
The possibility of the Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defense security and defense policy was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty.
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.
Those not living up to their commitments could be kicked out of the group.
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.
By working together on joint projects, nations hope to use their combined spending power to overcome capability gaps, jointly buying equipment like air transporters or drones. "The real problem is not how much we spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner". "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".
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