EU countries sign defense pact on permanent structured cooperation

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-11-14 09:11

BRUSSELS - Defense ministers of 23 EU member states Monday signed a pact on joint defense cooperation and handed it over to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

According to a statement released by Mogherini's foreign affairs council, the pact on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) foresees the possibility of a number of EU member states working more closely together in the area of security and defense.

The PESCO is expected to bring more binding commitments to strengthen cooperation in defense.

This permanent framework will allow EU member states to jointly develop defense capabilities, invest in shared projects, or enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

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

"Today, after so many years, the provision of the Lisbon Treaty establishing the possibility for the EU member states to have a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defense is going to be initiated," Mogherini told reporters upon her arrival for the council.

"So, today we will launch a new page for the European Defense," said Mogherini.

The European Council has agreed in June to establish PESCO and the EU leaders discussed the progress in preparing during last summit.

In a statement, the European Commission welcomed the signing of the pact, saying a formal decision of establishing PESCO will be adopted by the end of the year, with the first projects to be identified in parallel.

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