BRUSSELS: The EU will move towards closer defence ties on Monday with more than 20 states signing a landmark pact that aims to boost cooperation after Brexit and counteract Russian pressure.
Similar efforts to deepen military links have been frustrated for decades, partly by Britain’s fierce opposition to anything that might lead to a European army.
But Brexit and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 has once again brought the need for a strong European security stance back into focus.
The permanent structured cooperation on defence agreement (PESCO), seeks to tighten defence between EU members and improve coordination in the development of new military hardware.
The agreement is part of efforts led by Germany and France to reboot the European Union after Britain’s decision to leave and follows the announcement in June of a 5.5-billion euro European Defence Fund.
The pact’s backers say it will complement NATO, which will keep its primary role in defending Europe.