Germany eyes EU defence union without Britain

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen attends a news conference in Berlin, Germany, July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke


BERLIN: Germany and France want to forge closer defence cooperation in the European Union following the departure of Britain, which has “paralysed” such initiatives in the past, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.

Presenting a report on German security policy, von der Leyen said Germany and France would lead talks with other countries to assess their appetite for common projects and with the long-term aim of moving toward a common security and defence union.

“I can tell you from experience that in the past Britain has said it will not do these things,” she told a news conference.

“This paralysed the European Union on the issues of foreign and security policy. This cannot mean that the rest of Europe remains inactive, but rather we need to move forward on these big issues.”

Von der Leyen suggested the construction of a European “civilian-military headquarters”, from which EU missions could be deployed, as well as a European medical force.

The government highlighted the threat posed by Russia, which it said was “openly calling the European peace order into question” with a willingness to use force to advance its interests and to redraw borders in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

“Without a fundamental change in policy, Russia will constitute a challenge to the security of our continent in the foreseeable future.”

Full article: Germany eyes EU defence union without Britain (Channel NewsAsia)

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