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European Union countries sign defense pact on permanent structured cooperation

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Minister of Defence Jüri Luik and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the signing of PESCO as a "historic moment in European defense".

Apart from Britain, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland and Malta have yet to decide whether to join the pact.

Led by France and Germany, the pact pledges 23 European Union member-states to a Common Defence Fund which will see them develop and deploy armed forces together, Reuters reports.

The goal of PESCO is to further increase defense cooperation between member states, to encourage larger defense investments, to facilitate the availability of military capabilities for European Union operations, to strengthen defense cooperation between member states, and to decrease capability gaps.

European Union Foreign Ministers, who are meeting on Monday in Brussels, will hear EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini report on her recent lobbying trip to the US on the Iran nuclear deal.

"I'm a firm believer of stronger European defense, so I welcome PESCO because I believe that it can strengthen European defense, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO", Stoltenberg said.

The possibility of the Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defense security and defense policy was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty.

"The real problem is not how much we spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner", Mogherini said.

"It will primarily depend on France and Germany's ability to address short term technical issues, such as the definition of ambitious projects and the monitoring of the countries' commitments, and to focus on the concrete military effects of this initiative", said the European Leadership Network think tank in a research note. This could take place at the next Foreign Affairs Council on 11th December.

Also, warnings by U.S. President Donald Trump that European allies must pay more towards their security seemed to have propelled the project forward.

Mogherini said the move would complement NATO's security aims. The EU, she said, has tools to fight hybrid warfare - the use of conventional weapons mixed with things like propaganda and cyber-attacks - that the American-led military alliance does not have at its disposal.

The joint notification is the first formal step to set up the PESCO.

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