EU seeks to strengthen military muscle following Britain's exit

European Union military capabilities need to be beefed up, the EU's top diplomat is set to argue Tuesday at a summit in Brussels in the wake of Britain's decision to leave the bloc.

Britain is a top player on foreign affairs and defence, with United Nations veto powers, nuclear weapons and the strongest army in the EU alongside France's. But it has always been sceptical of plans to strengthen EU military capabilities outside of NATO.

"While NATO exists to defend its members – most of which are European – from external attack, Europeans must be better equipped, trained and organized to contribute decisively to such collective efforts, as well as to act autonomously if and when necessary," a strategy paper to be discussed by the bloc's leaders, seen by dpa, says.

The 32-page document, titled Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe - A Global Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy, does not mention the so-called Brexit issue explicitly.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was scheduled to present the paper Tuesday at an EU summit in Brussels. Britain's EU departure plans are all but certain to top the agenda at the summit, which was also due to be attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The paper also calls for EU unity towards Russia and says that managing relations with the Kremlin "represents a key strategic challenge" for the bloc, which is finalizing a decision on renewing economic sanctions against Moscow for its actions in Ukraine.

"We will not recognize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea nor accept the destabilization of eastern Ukraine," the EU text says, while proposing to "engage Russia to discuss disagreements and cooperate if and when our interests overlap."

Foreign policy priorities set by Mogherini also include greater intelligence cooperation against terrorists and securing free trade deals with the United States, Latin America, Japan, India and other Asian nations, as well as work with African partners to control migration flows.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 14:59
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