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01:27 PM, December 13, 2017
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The European Union defense pact, known as Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), has identified 17 defense projects to be undertaken by the 25 participating EU states starting next year.

European Union member states on Monday kick-started the establishment of a defense union, after the European Council approved the new European defense and security cooperation network, at a meeting in Brussels, an EU press release said.

The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which was first set out in the Lisbon Treaty, will allow member states to jointly develop military capabilities, invest in shared projects and enhance their respective armed forces.

The EU Defense Pact countries have identified 17 joint projects including establishing a pan-European military training center, improving capability development and even introducing common standards for military radio communication.

Germany is to take the lead on four projects: the creation of a pan-European medical unit, a logistics hub, a center for training missions and an initiative to build up faster crisis response forces.

Those projects are expected to be formally adopted early next year, with participating countries also invited to propose additional programs.

European defense ministers from 23 member states had initially signed a joint notification on PESCO on November 13 while Portugal and Ireland announced their decision to join the pact on December 7, bringing up the number contributing members to 25.

Although PESCO remains an intergovernmental program, the Commission said in a press release that it will prop up the network via its European Defense Fund. Money is set to be assigned for the acquisition of new defense equipment and technology, as well as to finance grants for research projects.

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