EU leaders formerly endorsed the harmless sounding Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, pact on Thursday evening in Brussels. After the shock of Brexit, the goal of defence integration was revived by former military foes, Germany and France, supported by Italy and Spain, in a show of EU unity. A similar proposal was blocked by the French parliament in the 1950s (see below). Now a treaty has been signed which sees the defence union complete by 2025 in what has been described as “one of the most tangible steps in EU integration since Brexit”.
Britain, thanks to Brexit, Malta and Denmark, which has an “opt out” on EU defence issues did not sign the agreement. Standing in the front row on the left of the group photo was the President of the undemocratic European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, who has been calling for an EU army for many years. In 2015, The Guardian reported.
Back then, it was really just about furthering the European project, especially as the need for an EU army in parallel to NATO has never been adequately explained. This was Reuters commenting on the new defence pact.
Which sounds more like justification for NATO rather than an EU defence force. Talking of which, NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, who attended part of the summit, warned against duplication with NATO since 22 EU countries are also NATO members.
Not surprisingly, the announcement was greeted with some bravado from “rough tough” EU bureaucrats, like European Council President, Donald Tusk, who said it was “bad news for our enemies”. According to Tusk.
Germany’s foreign minister blamed it on Donald Trump’s criticism of low defence spending by European nations.