Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
World | By Melba Underwood

Poland decides to join EU's PESCO defense project

Poland decides to join EU's PESCO defense project

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, center left, speaks with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, center right, during a meeting of European Union foreign and defense ministers at the Europa building in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.

"It was important for us especially after the election of the American president that we can organise ourselves independently as Europeans", German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

Membership of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative will present an opportunity for Slovakia to bolster its defence capabilities, both for national purposes and in meeting its global commitments, said Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) who signed an intention for Slovakia to join PESCO along with State Secretary for Foreign and European Affairs, Ivan Korčok, in Brussels on November 13.

All EU countries except Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Malta and Portugal said Monday they would sign up to the pact, which will be officially launched at a summit next month. Those who didn't sign up can join later.

"This is the beginning of a common work - 23 member states engaging both on capabilities and on operational steps, that's something big", Mogherini said.

Countries that are not in the European Union could take part in specific missions, opening the way to possible participation by Britain after Brexit - though they will have no role in decision-making.

Their signatures are a sign of political will but the program will only enter force once it's been legally endorsed, probably in December.

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EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed the decision as a "historic moment in European defense".

Under the cooperation, member countries will submit an action plan outlining their defense aims.

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

Those not living up to their commitments could be kicked out of the group.

Poland has chose to join the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the field of defense within the EU.

The decision to launch PESCO signals Europe's move towards self-sufficiency in defense instead of relying only on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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.

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