In response to major challenges threatening the EU's security, particularly hybrid and information warfare, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, conflicts in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhood as well as proxy wars the European Council this week agreed the creation of a new European defence and security cooperation network.
To be known as PESCO, the body will allow member states to jointly develop military capabilities, invest in shared projects and enhance their respective armed forces.
25 Member States will contribute to PESCO, while Malta, Denmark - which has special opt-out status - and the UK (which is set to withdraw from the bloc in March 2019) will not be involved in this programme.
ALDE MEP, Jozo Radoš (Civil-Liberal Alliance, Croatia), commented: "After a long period of hand-wringing, last year the CSDP made some important and concrete steps - from establishing the European Defence Fund to the activation of the PESCO. In order to achieve a real European Defence Union by 2025, these initial steps must be followed by permanent policies, stronger budgetary support and regular strategic reviews."
Hans van Baalen MEP (VVD, The Netherlands), ALDE Group's coordinator in Foreign Affairs Committee added "The EU needs to put its money where its mouth is. We need a strong Common Foreign and Security Policy which can stand up to Russian aggression in the Eastern Neighbourhood and religious extremism in the Middle East. This can only be reached by creating a strong European co-responsibility within Nato, so that when Nato cannot act, we have our own European capability."