EU leaders invite Nato chief to speak at summit

Importance of strengthening defence and security structures on agenda

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg arriving at the  EU summit  in Brussels. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg arriving at the EU summit in Brussels. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images

 

EU leaders emphasised the importance of the strengthening of union-wide defence and security structures by, unusually, inviting Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg to address their meeting on Thursday afternoon.

They agreed to step up EU-Nato co-operation with common work planned on enhancing “military mobility”.

And the summit also sees the formal launch this evening at a special ceremony of the new Pesco (Permanent Structured Co-operation) voluntary framework for co-operation on defence and military matters ranging from logistics to common transport and medical units, to research and weapons procurement and interoperability – 25 member states will participate, including Ireland whose involvement was sanctioned last week by the Dáil.

‘Defence union’

The summit conclusions welcome the establishment of Pesco, a Franco-German initiative to put flesh on Lisbon Treaty provisions that they see as a first step towards a “defence union”, and urge early work on the 17 common projects agreed so far.

The leaders urged the union’s institutions to work on expanding the civilian dimension of the union’s common security policy. This ranges from police missions to electoral observers .

The leaders backed the “Social Pillar”, a package of social rights approved by them at the Gothenburg summit last month and they endorsed plans proposed by French president Emmanuel Macron for the establishment of a network of 20 “European universities”, collaborations between existing colleges. enabling students to get degrees by studying in several countries.

Language learning

They pledged to strengthen their national commitments to language learning “so that more young people will speak at least two languages in addition to their mother tongue”.

They also agreed they will work to promote mutual recognition of qualifications at second and third level.

The summit also pledged, in what was clearly a direct response to US president Donald Trump’s repudiation of climate change action, to maintain EU leadership internationally on the issue, and recommitted themselves to implementing the Paris Accord.

The leaders are also expected to respond to the decision of Mr Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by encouraging dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians and recommitting the EU to a two-state solution.