Defense ministers from nine EU countries, including the U.K., on Monday pledged to form a joint European military intervention force that will allow British support to last post Brexit.
The European Intervention Initiative, spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron as part of plans for an autonomous European defense force outlined in his Sorbonne speech in September, will be tasked with quickly deploying troops in crisis scenarios near Europe’s borders. The group includes Germany, Belgium, the U.K., Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, Spain and Portugal.
“The goal: that our armed forces learn get to know each other and act together,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly said in a tweet. “Thanks to exchanges between staff and joint exercises, we will create a European strategic culture. We will be ready to anticipate crises and respond quickly and effectively.”
The initiative will be distinct from the European defense pact known as PESCO — which includes all EU member countries except Britain, Malta and Denmark — enabling the U.K. to continue to participate after it leaves the bloc in 2019.
The U.K. was “very keen” to sign the agreement in order to “maintain cooperation with Europe beyond bilateral ties,” Parly told Le Figaro in an interview published Sunday.
The group will work “as close as possible with the European Defense Union because we know that our troops are engaged either in NATO or the EU, but also in U.N. missions or counter-terrorism coalitions,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said ahead of a meeting of defense ministers in Luxembourg.
As part of discussions on the rules of PESCO, EU defense ministers also agreed Monday to set out the general conditions for “third state participation” in PESCO projects in November — rules that would also apply to the U.K. once it leaves the bloc.Ukrainian radicals attack Roma camp with Molotov cocktails