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News 14 Nov 17

Balkan EU States Move Towards Common European Defence

Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Romania signed a declaration of intent to join the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation, PESCO defence project, a move towards a common European defence system.

Sven Milekic
The defence and foreign ministers who signed up to join PESCO. Photo: Tauno Tohk/EU2017EE

The defence and foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Romania on Monday signed a joint notification of intent to join the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation, PESCO, which was set up to enable closer military cooperation and integration between EU member states.

Along with Balkan EU states, ministers from 19 other EU states signed the notification of intent, moving a step closer to forming a common European defence system and establishing a European Defence Union by 2025.

The only EU states that did not sign the notification are Denmark, Ireland, Malta, Portugal and Britain, which is leaving the EU in March 2019.

Within PESCO, EU states will jointly invest in raising their defence capabilities, as well as coordinating their operative capabilities and doing cross-border defence and security projects. Some of these projects will focus on defence research and prototype development.

Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic called the singing “a great day for Europe”, adding that Croatia joined “because it is in its national interest”.

“Through participation in PESCO, we are creating the possibility of further strengthening the Croatian defence industry in equipment, development and modernisation projects within the EU. All this is in order to strengthen the defence capabilities of the EU, but also to strengthen the defence capabilities of the Croatian Army,” he said.

The need for PESCO and a common European defence policy has been underlined by the new US security policy towards the EU under President Donald Trump. However, PESCO will not duplicate NATO activities.

Additional reasons for establishing PESCO are to try and rationalise tight national military budgets and respond to Russian military activities.

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