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LONDON — The European Union is set to approve a sweeping new defense policy that would allow the bloc to deploy up to 5,000 troops in a crisis.
“The current hostile environment requires a leap forward,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter, citing the conflict in Ukraine.
The “Strategic Compass” policy will strengthen the EU’s security and defense capabilities by 2030, the body said in a statement on Monday.
The policy will enable the 27-member bloc to better “protect its citizens and contribute to international peace and security”, he added, including contributing “positively to global and transatlantic security”.
More mission experts will be deployed, live exercises will be conducted on land and at sea, and military mobility and intelligence capabilities will be enhanced as part of the policy, the EU said. It will also have a cyber defense component to better respond to online attacks and interference, and ensure that member countries significantly increase their defense spending, he said.
Borrell hailed the new strategy, which European Council leaders are expected to approve later this week, as “a turning point” for the European body.
“I am very happy that this proposal has finally been accepted,” he told reporters, noting that it would need funding from taxes on European citizens. “The Compass will help us strengthen our ability to act more quickly and decisively in response to crises,” he said. “You have to know how to react”
The plan also aims to strengthen cooperation with bodies such as NATO, the United Nations and the African Union and to develop more “tailor-made bilateral partnerships with like-minded countries”, including the United States, Canada and Japan, according to the EU statement.
However, Borrell stressed that it would not be an EU army.
“We don’t want to create a European army,” he said. “European armies will remain, with each member state having its own military army. But we need to work more closely together. We need to better coordinate our spending.
Successive US administrations have called on European nations to increase defense spending, including former President Donald Trump. Leaders such as Frenchman Emmanuel Macron have also pushed for more military self-sufficiency for the continent after Brexit and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.