Brussels (Brussels Morning) EU military cooperation will get a boost from NATO partners Canada, Norway and the US who are to participate in its military mobility project, Germany’s Defence Minister Annegret Kram-Karrenbauer announced on Thursday.
“It will be a quantum leap in terms of concrete cooperation”, Kramp-Karrebauer said, ahead of the meeting of the 27 member state defence ministers in Brussels, their first non-virtual gathering to take place in more than a year.
“Talking about military mobility, making sure that troops can be moved across borders within Europe is a very important issue not only for the European Union but also for NATO”, Kramp-Karrenbauer declared.
The three non-EU NATO members are set to become the first non-bloc countries to collaborate in the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) pact, which aims to strengthen defence ties between the member states.
PESCO was initially set up by EU leaders in December 2017, after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Its military mobility project set aside 1.7 billion euro to improve infrastructure and communications in support of the NATO alliance, which would be called upon in the event of a conflict with Moscow.
The military mobility project aims to improve the exchange of information between EU countries, and to reduce border bureaucracy, harmonising customs rules to facilitate swifter deployments and easier transport of military equipment. The budget also provides for upgrades to transport infrastructure, reinforcing bridges, for example, that are too weak to bear tanks.
Also on the agenda for the meeting of the EU Council of Defence Ministers is a review of the current situation on the Ukrainian border, including concerns about Russian troop movements near the border with Ukraine’s conflict-ridden Donbass region, where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting Ukrainian government forces since 2014.