Twenty-five European Union member states, including Cyprus, on Monday moved closer towards establishing a defence union, after the European Council adopted the creation of a new European defence and security cooperation network known as Pesco.
Signing for Cyprus was foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
The Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco), first set out in the Lisbon Treaty, will allow members states to jointly develop military capabilities, invest in shared projects and enhance their respective armed forces.
European defence ministers from 23 member states had initially signed a joint notification on Pesco on November 13.
On December 7, Portugal and Ireland announced their decision to join, bringing the total number of contributing members up to 25.
The countries not taking part in Pesco are Malta, Denmark – which has special opt-out status – and Britain which is leaving the bloc.
However, these countries could join at any point in the future.
Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, called the move “historic.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hailed the move on Twitter, posting: “She is awake, the Sleeping Beauty of the Lisbon Treaty: Permanent Structured Cooperation is happening.
“I welcome the operational steps taken today by Member States to lay the foundations of a European #DefenceUnion. Our security cannot be outsourced.”
Officials have earmarked 17 joint projects that will fall under the scope of the Pesco agreement. These include establishing a pan-European military training centre and improving capability development.
According to a European Commission press release, the European Defence Fund, launched in June of this year, provides for €500 million in total for 2019 and 2020, and €1 billion per year after 2020.
“A more substantial programme will be prepared for post-2020, with an estimated annual budget of €1 billion. The programme will leverage national financing with an expected multiplying effect of 5. It could therefore generate a total investment in defence capability development of €5 billion per year after 2020.”
Military integration and interoperability is seen as a key step towards greater federalisation in the EU.
In a speech in Berlin last week, German SDP party leader Martin Schulz called for the creation of a ‘United States of Europe’ by 2025.