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France and Germany have drawn up new plans for cooperating to defend Europe in an attempt to achieve "strategic autonomy" for the EU in defense matters.
Axar.az reports citing on Sputnik news, France and Germany have drawn up a blueprint for "permanent structural cooperation" among the EU countries in defense matters, following last month's European Council meeting which discussed options for "strategic autonomy" in EU defense.
The joint report from the EU's most powerful members describes a "long-term vision" that participating states develop the ability of their armed forces to fully execute military tasks, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, which has seen a copy of the document, reported on Sunday.
The new military capabilities will be developed "in addition to NATO, which will continue to be the cornerstone of the collective defense of its members," the report added.
The proposal was formulated after last month's bilateral defense council meeting, at which Berlin and Paris agreed upon conditions under which countries should participate in the defense pact. These include a commitment to increase defense spending to "approach" the two percent demanded by NATO and to invest 20 percent of military spending on research, development, and equipment acquisition.
France and Germany also propose that member states' armed forces undergo an annual assessment by the European Defense Agency, whose powers will be significantly strengthened.
France, Germany, Italy and others have expressed renewed interest in a pan-European defense initiative in recent years, especially in light of the UK's decision to leave the EU. The UK had been a staunch supporter of NATO and has continued to oppose a European defense union even after its decision to longer be a part of the EU.
"We are still full members of the European Union and we will resist any attempt to unnecessarily duplicate NATO structures. We remain committed to the security of the European continent," the UK Ministry of Defense stated in September last year.
Following the Brexit vote, France and Germany presented the Visegrad group of countries with a plan for a new-look European superstate including a "European Security Compact" dealing with all aspects of security and defense at the European level.
In February, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said that the EU should enhance its defense cooperation, independent of NATO. She suggested a "two-speed" Europe in defense as well as economic matters, including the implementation of a "Defense Schengen" that would strengthen cooperation between Italy, France, Germany and Spain.
2017.08.01 / 15:01