The European Union took a step toward greater military coordination on Monday as EU foreign and defence ministers unanimously agreed to establish a command headquarters so they could better plan and conduct support missions abroad.
The plan to establish the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) came as EU countries explored the possibility of stronger military cooperation.
Many foresaw this as leading to the creation of a joint EU defence structure in the future.
The new headquarters was to assume command of EU support missions abroad that played advisory roles, such as for training.
The capability would bring all such operations which currently include military training missions in Somalia, Mali and the Central African Republic under the oversight of a unified EU structure.
This would free field commanders from spending time in Brussels for planning and coordinating, allowing them to concentrate on activities on the ground.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomed the establishment of the command capacity.
He said it was “a first big step toward stronger joint European defence and security policy.”
The ministers also discussed the possibility of setting up a permanent structure for EU countries to cooperate on defence.
Such an EU defence structure would be harmonised with NATO, as 22 of the EU’s 28 member states were members of the trans-Atlantic military alliance.
EU foreign policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, said member states were committed to moving closer to a final decision on the establishment of such a structure.
“I believe that this entire work will be one of the fields where the European Union will have the possibility to advance very significantly even further in the coming months.
“We’re running fast, we are going onwards united,” Mogherini said.