BERLIN / BRUSSELS --- At least 20 countries in the European Union will sign up to a new defence pact next week, promoted by France and Germany, to fund and develop joint military hardware in a show of unity following Britain’s decision to quit the bloc.
After years of spending cutbacks in Europe and a heavy reliance on the United States through the NATO alliance, France and Germany hope the accord, to be signed on Nov. 13 in Brussels, will tie nations into tighter defence collaboration covering troops and weapons.
The Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, could be the biggest leap in EU defence policy in decades and may go some way to matching the bloc’s economic and trade prowess with a more powerful military.
But differences remain between Paris and Berlin over what countries legally bound by the pact should do, EU diplomats said.
France wanted a core group of governments to bring money and military assets to PESCO as well as a willingness to intervene abroad. Germany has sought to broaden the pact to make it inclusive, which some experts say could make it less effective.
“This has to bring about a higher level of commitment if it is going to work,” said a EU official, describing PESCO as a ‘defence marriage’. “The EU already has plenty of forums for discussion,” the official said. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.