Friday, 17 November, 2017

European Union states start new joint military investment program

Poland decides to join EU's PESCO defense project UPDATE: 23 EU Countries Take "Historic" Step Toward Defence Union
Freda Brock | 13 November, 2017, 19:26

With a focus on reacting and defending against Russian aggression, the new set-up effectively gives Brussels a formal role in the overall strategic defences across the continent.

The agreement envisions a Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, which is meant to give the European Union a more coherent role in tackling worldwide crises, follows the announcement of a $6.4-billion European Defense Fund last June.

France and Germany proposed the initiative past year as part of their efforts to breathe new life into the European project after Britain voted to leave the bloc.

"The real problem is not how much we spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner", Mogherini said. The EU, however, also stressed that PESCO is complimentary to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, in which 22 of the EU's 28 countries are members.

Long blocked by Britain, which opposed the creation of an European Union army, the defense integration drive was revived by France after the election of pro-European Emmanuel Macron as president, and Germany after Britons voted in June 2016 to leave the EU.

Twenty-three European Union member states on Thursday in Brussels signed a declaration of intent for increasing defense cooperation in the framework of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). The PESCO drive however has revealed strains between Paris and Berlin, with the French pushing for a smaller group of nations committed to ambitious projects and Germany wanting a more inclusive arrangement with as numerous bloc's 27 members - minus Britain - as possible.

Germany wanted as many countries as possible to sign up but for it to undertake more modest schemes, and Berlin's vision looks to have won the day. "It has no chance of working". This could take place at the next Foreign Affairs Council on 11th December.

House 'Committed' to Retaining Some State and Local Tax Deductions, Chairman Says
Neither the House nor Senate bill repeals the individual mandate despite the fact some conservatives on Capitol Hill, such as Sen. The deduction is particularly important to residents in states with high property taxes, such as NY and California.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said it was important for Europe to begin to stand on its feet when it comes to security and defence - "especially after the election of the US President (Donald Trump)".

Mogherini said the move would complement NATO's security aims.

Ultimately Pesco could be overseen by a European operational headquarters or logistics base. "This could develop new products and help increase efficiency in Europe".

The group will have a €5 billion ($5.8 billion) European Defense Fund to buy weapons, a different fund for operations, and also get money from the EU budget for research.

British officials held open the prospect of cooperating with the pact on a case-by-case basis.

"We are agreeing on the future cooperation on security and defence issues ... it's really a milestone in European development", he added.

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