EU heads discuss defence cooperation in Brussels

EU heads discuss defence cooperation in Brussels

As the leaders of the European Union meet in Brussels today, impeding Brexit negotiations are sure to dominate the agenda.

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

As the leaders of the European Union meet in Brussels today, impeding Brexit negotiations are sure to dominate the agenda. While Britain’s decision to leave the Union will negatively impact both sides, there is one area where the EU may benefit.

For years, London has blocked attempts to strengthen closer EU defence cooperation, citing fears of setting up a rival to NATO. But the European Commission maintains that new cooperation initiatives, such as the European Defence Fund, are complementing, not rivalling NATO.

For the moment, the focus rests on increasing the number of shared weapon systems and streamlining procurement of military equipment, which could save EU members billions. In the long term however, there will likely “be a European Army”, as a senior German government official said on Monday.

While some Eastern EU member states have reservations about European defence integration, fears of Russian assertiveness and mixed signals from Washington may prove convincing.

Delve deeper: The benign neglect of NATO