The European Union has agreed a defence plan which could see it sending rapid response forces abroad for the first time.
Foreign and Defence ministers meeting in Brussels said their revamped strategy which envisaged greater co-ordination in EU-led peacekeeping missions, reflected a willingness to act independently of the US but dismissed competition with NATO or the creation of a European army.
According to EU Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini the plan was under consideration before Donald Trump’s victory.
“It’s not about creating a new European Union shape-style headquarter, it’s not about doing European Union territorial defence, for this, NATO is there for those there are allies and others have their own national defence competencies, it’s not as I said about competition or duplication with NATO.”
It lists tasks and aims which will require increased funding. They include support from governments on using so-called EU battle groups of 1,500 personnel, which have been operational since 2007 but never used.
It may not be a direct response to the US election result, but the plan nonetheless takes on special relevance after Trump’s campaign comments in which he criticised low levels of defence spending by some of NATO’s European members.
It has also been given a boost after Brexit because the UK has traditionally blocked such Franco-German initiatives to give the EU a greater security dimension.