Three non-EU countries, the US, Norway and Canada, have joined Brussels' initiative aimed at improving redeployment speed for troops in Europe, Reuters reported citing anonymous diplomatic sources. At the same time, there have been no signs of the UK, which dropped out of the EU recently, seeking to join the initiative. The decision to adopt the first three foreign participants in the project will reportedly be made official on 6 May, the news agency's sources claim.
The EU's Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) pact was proposed by the Netherlands as a way to harmonise customs rules of the participating 25 EU states (Malta and Denmark opted out of it) and remove red tape that prevents unimpeded movement of servicemen and military equipment, including weapons, across the European borders. The initiative also aims to spend 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) upgrading the bloc's transport infrastructure for these purposes, such as bridges that can no longer safely hold transported tanks.
"It is also very important for transatlantic cooperation, good cooperation between EU members and NATO allies," one of the sources told Reuters.
The PESCO is designed mainly to help the NATO alliance, which repeatedly floated the unsubstantiated idea that Russia may pose a threat to European security. The transatlantic treaty was one of the main advocates for resolving the issues with conflicting European regulations regarding movements of military personnel and equipment. As a result, most of the 27 EU states agreed to join PESCO in December 2017.