For the European defence efforts, getting rid of the UK's torturous approach toward a common defence policy presented an opportunity the governments and European institutions eagerly seized this year. But there is little time to rejoice.
Foreign and defence ministers on Monday (19 November) agreed on 17 new armaments and military projects within the PESCO framework, including the development of new weapons systems and the establishment of a training facility for secret agents.
French President Emmanuel Macron called on Tuesday (6 November) for a "real European army" to allow the bloc to defend itself against Russia and even the United States, a hugely sensitive idea amongst EU nations which jealously guard their defence.
Britain signed a military cooperation agreement with Germany on Friday (5 October), emphasising London's commitment to helping shield Europe from future security threats at a time when negotiations over its own exit from the EU are reaching a crunch time.
The UK has always had a tortured relationship with the EU’s defence policy ambitions. In 2010, David Cameron’s Conservative party promised to withdraw the UK from the European Defence Agency (EDA), only to backtrack two years later.
EU defence ministers yesterday (6 March) held their first meeting in the 'PESCO format'. This means that, although ministers from all EU member states were present, only those participating in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) pact were involved in adopting legal acts.
The erosion of arms control agreements, deployment of additional weapons and tensions over military exercises have increased the risk of an inadvertent armed clash between Europe and Russia, according to the 2018 Munich Security Report published today (8 February).
Flanked by soldiers in combat dress, European leaders inaugurated on Thursday (14 December) a landmark defence cooperation pact that EU Council President Donald Tusk said was "bad news for our enemies".
The EU took a major step towards building closer defence ties on Monday (13 November), with 23 member states signing a landmark agreement, promoted by France and Germany, to fund and boost cooperation following Britain’s decision to leave the bloc.
The European Commission adopted on Friday (10 November) a roadmap aimed at removing barriers for the smooth transport of military troops and gear inside the bloc, as part of efforts to create the European defence union.
At least 20 members of the European Union will next week sign up to a new defence pact, heavily promoted by France and Germany, to fund and develop joint military hardware in a show of unity following Britain's decision to quit the bloc.
EURACTIV asked Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker what are the geopolitical risks for the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Borissov said he had asked the same question to Juncker, but apparently obtained no answer.