Dawn of the EU army? ‘FULL SPEED ahead’ with defence plans, EU foreign affairs chief warns

The European Union foreign affairs minister said the bloc was moving at “full speed” to bring member states closer together on all issues relating to defence.

Mrs Mogherini said: “The coming months will be the opportunity to launch an even greater number of cooperative projects, specifically on cybersecurity.

“But obviously we will also continue to work at full speed and with full determination on the European defence more broadly.”

Speaking at the annual conference of the European Defence Agency, she said the EU was currently working on over 50 projects to follow up the decision by 23 EU members to create a common defence fund.

She continued: “The new capability development plan will point at the main gaps we need to fill and the sector we should invest in. We will have at least three new tools to develop these capabilities.

“First the newly established Permanent Structure Cooperation (PESCO). The first projects that have been presented already – there are more or less 50 – show the great potential of the Permanent Structure Cooperation.

“It also shows the determination by member states to explore all its possibilities.”

Driven by France and Germany, PESCO will see EU countries join forces as part of a defence cooperation pact which includes commitments to integrate armed forces, a boost in defence spending and the creation of a joint HQ.

EU bosses also set aside £4.9bn (€5,5bn) to fund military research and development into new hardware and the joint purchase of new equipment.

So far the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Portugal and Malta have yet to sign up to the deal, which is seen by some as the next step towards a fully-fledged EU Army. 

After it is formally launched next month, PESCO will be another in a series of an already complex relationship between some EU Member States and NATO.