EU Foreign Affairs chief Federica Mogherini praised member states for signing into the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) treaty – which will see the creation of a common European defence force.
Ms Mogherini said: “I must confess in this moment I am divided between two different personal feeling. On the one hand, I think habemus papam – white smoke, ‘mission accomplished’– but no time to celebrate.
“It’s true we made it, it’s historic, it’s big but at the same time, the real work is just about to begin. I’ve always been convinced and even more today that the EU is what we make it.”
EU ministers have announced that 25 out of 28 bloc members will participate and jointly implement military projects in the future, and will pool resources and knowledge.
Speaking to MEPs during the December European Parliament plenary, Ms Mogherini said PESCO will allow Brussels to “strengthen its partners” while building up the “security and defence” of its members in “years to come.”
She continued: “We decided to change things together in this field and we did it and now we are ready to work and shape our next steps towards an EU of security and defence and I’m sure we will continue to work together and do it also in the years to come.
“We can now research and develop our defence capabilities together. We can buy together to ensure that we have the capabilities we need and spending efficiently.
“We can act together to manage or prevent crisis, to strengthen our partners, to make our citizens more secure. The 25 have taken binding commitments to improving their cooperation and the progress of these commitments will be assessed regularly.”
The EU hopes the defence union will be complete by 2025, and after that, the states plan to develop joint military diving robots and armoured vehicles– with a European drone and a flying infirmary also in the works.
But France and Germany view common defence differently.
French President Emmanuel Macron dreams of a European defence budget, a joint intervention force and a common doctrine, but France does not have the funds for it.
Germany is in charge of setting up a joint medical order and wants to establish a centre of excellence for foreign missions.
Sabine Thillaye, chairwoman of the Europe Committee in the Assemblée Nationale, and member of Mr Macron’s party told Noz: “France has the operational force and Germany has the financial power.”