The European Union’s (EU) foreign minister has said the bloc is working at “full speed” to create a unified “defence force” on a “continental scale”.
Federica Mogherini, who is formally known as the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, made the announcement at the Annual Conference of the European Defence Agency.
“Exactly ten days ago, I received the letter notifying that 23 Member States are ready to embark on a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence. And, let me add, that others might join in the coming days,” she said, referring to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) pact signed earlier this month.
Led by France and Germany, 23 member-states agreed to a common defence fund, which will see them develop and deploy armed forces together.
— EU External Action (@eu_eeas) November 23, 2017
They earmarked £4.9 billion (€5.5 billion) to fund research and development into new military hardware and the joint purchase of equipment, as well as committing to integrate their armed forces and the establishment of a joint headquarters.
“It was, for me, an emotional moment, and I am sure that it was also an emotional moment for many of you, who have worked hard to make this possible over the last year,” Ms. Mogherini added.
The EU attempted to hide their plans for the defence force – including a centralised headquarters and “permanent structured defence co-operation” – before the Brexit referendum, but they were leaked just weeks before the vote.
This September, after the referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, was less secretive about his vision, openly calling for the bloc to rapidly push ahead with the creation of the army.
— European External Action Service – EEAS 🇺 (@eu_eeas) November 23, 2017
The EU Foreign Secretary continued Thursday: “Today we are building the European Union of Security and Defence. It is not a plan anymore, it is not a dream anymore, it is reality coming true.
“The dream of our founding fathers and mothers is finally coming true – more than sixty years later. All the building blocks of a Security and Defence Union are finally there, today.
“We can now project and develop our defence capabilities together; we can buy together, to ensure that we have all the capabilities we need, while spending efficiently; and we can act together much better than before, to manage or prevent crises, to strengthen our partners, to make our citizens more secure.”