EU Ministers Sign Landmark Defense Agreement

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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. The European Union is banning arms sales to Venezuela and setting up a system for asset freezes and travel restrictions on some Venezuelan officials to ramp up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro. Countries not signing up on Monday will be able to join PESCO later, and the deal also includes provisions for non-EU members, which would include Britain, to take part in specific projects. "Member States have presented already more than 50 concrete projects both in the field of capabilities and in the field of operations".

There are strong indications that British officials are pushing hard for the United Kingdom to be included in the Permanent Structured Cooperation process, or PESCO, which is key to the Defence Union plans set out by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker recently. By the time of the summit, diplomats expect only Britain, Denmark and Malta not to be involved.

European Union officials have identified defense as an area where they have made progress on multiple fronts since Britain voted to leave. Member states participating in PESCO retain the sovereign right to command their own national defense, and the capabilities developed within PESCO will belong to the member states, who will be able to use them as they wish, regardless of the format, including in fulfilling their own national needs and those of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Former UKIP leader Diane James MEP has suggested that, "as the EU Common Defence Fund is being launched way before Brexit, the UK will be providing 13 per cent of the cash" - although this is not yet fully confirmed.

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Under the cooperation, member countries will submit an action plan outlining their defense aims.

"Today we will launch a new page for the European Defence", said Frederica Mogherini, the EU's foreign and defence policy representative.

By working together on joint projects, nations hope to use their combined spending power to overcome capability gaps, jointly buying equipment like air transporters or drones. "The real problem is not how much we spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner".

The agreement commits countries to "regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms" as well as devoting 20 per cent of defence spending to procurement and 2 per cent to research and technology.

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