9 EU States Start Joint Military Force Outside EU, UK Included
A total of nine EU member states, including the UK that is on its way out of the Union, have launched a joint military force, the European Intervention Initiative, which, however, lies outside of the European Union framework.
The new non-EU military initiative has been started by France, Germany, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal at a ceremony in Luxembourg held by France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly, Reuters reports.
Italy, a crucial EU and NATO member, was also supposed to be part of the new pan-European military force but quit the negotiations after its recent election of a government of far-right and far-left populists.
The European Intervention Initiative has been designed as a coalition of willing European militaries that would be prepared to react to crises near Europe’s borders outside of NATO or without the involvement its key member, the United States.
The Initiative is also widely seen as an attempt to keep the UK tightly involved with Europe’s security regardless of Brexit.
“Our conviction … is that Europeans should be strong, capable of ever more, able to protect ourselves and our sovereignty,” French Defense Minister Parly told reporters after the ceremony, during which the 9 EU countries have signed a letter of intent.
The European Intervention Initiative was proposed by France’s new President Emmanuel Macron in a speech in September 2017.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has supported the launch of the new European military force, arguing it would make the EU militaries more agile.
“I believe it can strengthen the readiness of forces, because we need high readiness,” Stoltenberg is quoted as saying at a joint meeting of EU defense and foreign ministers in Luxembourg, told reporters.
Meanwhile, the EU defense ministers approved on Monday the rules of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the structural integration of 25 of the 28 EU militaries agreed upon in December 2017.
Moves to strengthen the EU countries militarily come against the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s constant complaints of “buck passing” and free riding on part of the European members of NATO.
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