Representative image. Photograph:( AFP )
EU leaders have described Russia's assault on Ukraine as a wake-up call that their 27 nations have to take a more muscular approach to their security
The European Union (EU) on Monday approved a fresh defence strategy that will involve a 5000-strong rapid reaction force. The new strategy is intended to increase the bloc's capacity to act. The plan has been in the pipeline for two years.
This plan underwent a last-minute rewrite to increase the focus on the threat from Russia after Moscow invaded Ukraine.
"It's not the answer to the Ukrainian war, but it is part of the answer," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at a meeting of the bloc's foreign and defence ministers.
"When we started working, we couldn't imagine that at the last moment of approval the situation would be so bad and Europe would be facing such a big challenge."
EU leaders have described Russia's assault on Ukraine as a wake-up call that their 27 nations have to take a more muscular approach to their security.
US-led military alliance NATO has for decades provided the bedrock for European defence and the war in Ukraine has reinforced the instinct among many EU members to keep Washington close.
But there has also been a push led by France for the bloc to bolster its own capacity to act.
The new strategy is designed to strike that balancing act while boosting defence cooperation between EU states.
"The more hostile security environment requires us to make a quantum leap forward and increase our capacity and willingness to act, strengthen our resilience, and invest more and better in our defence capabilities," the EU said in a statement.
"The objective of the Strategic Compass is to make the EU a stronger and more capable security provider."
Central to the plan is the establishment, by 2025, of an "EU Rapid Deployment Capacity" of up to 5,000 troops that could be sent into hostile environments.
(With inputs from agencies)