France to aim for stronger, exclusive European military force

Defence Ministers of nine Western countries and Estonia are expected to sign a letter of intent in June to advance the French-proposed European Intervention Initiative, Politico Europe reported.

The move comes after the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) took a more inclusive, less ambitious format at the insistence of Germany. Among participant countries are Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, Denmark and the UK. The French-proposed initiative will include developing a common strategic culture and intervention mechanisms for future joint operations mainly in Africa. The initiative is the first significant post-Brexit defence agreement between Europe and the UK, amid the problematic absence of a much-needed security deal between Brussels and London. The initiative goes along with the France’s defence ambitions as illustrated by its leadership in the 14 April strikes in Syria. Germany, frequently criticised for lacking military capabilities and inadequate defence spending despite being Europe’s economic superpower, will join the initiative as French and German defence ministers called for European strategic autonomy. In the past, France was expected to become one of European NATO’s Framework Nations in the likes of Germany, its emphasis on European autonomy is shifting this focus on a similar European structure. The force will mainly focus on operation in the MENA region with Estonia’s participation serving only as a symbolic recognition of the Russian threat to Eastern Europe.

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