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France, Germany call for closer EU military cooperation

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

France and Germany called for "innovative" ways to boost European military cooperation in a letter Friday to EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton ahead of a major defence meeting in December.

The letter highlighted Europe's responsibility to ensure peace and security in "today's changing world, with new centres of power and growing asymmetrical security threats, such as cyber security or terrorism".

It continued: "We must look at innovative ways to use our limited resources to maximum benefit, while further strengthening the European Union and its Common Security and Defence Policy."

Berlin and Paris argue that given budget constraints, EU countries must pool and share resources "to secure Europe's ability to act". This included cooperation in areas such as transport, aerial refuelling, medical operations and reconnaissance, including with remotely piloted aircraft systems or drones.

The Franco-German letter was signed by both countries' foreign and defence ministers.

A separate paper, also published on Friday by the two countries, proposed a series of ways to boost European military power.

The paper says EU Battlegroups, the bloc's multi-national military units, can play an important role in rapid responses to crises, but that members need to improve their "readiness...and operational effectiveness".

France and Germany also called for greater joint efforts on border security and safeguarding the EU's maritime strategic interests.

They said the European Council, which discusses security and defence issues in December, should push for improved information sharing on defence planning, not only within the EU but also NATO.

The paper also said on drones that the Council which groups all EU leaders should "encourage member states and European institutions to progress towards the air traffic insertion of remotely piloted aircraft systems".

France and Germany added that "we urgently need to develop options for close cooperation in the fields of cyber security and cyber defence, including with NATO".

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130726/france-germany-call-closer-eu-military-cooperation