04:42 GMT17 February 2020
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    Leaders of France and Germany Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel did not discuss the establishment of the joint EU army, but ways to strengthen the defense capacity of the bloc during their meeting ahead of an informal EU summit in Bratislava, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday.

    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — On September 15, Hollande and Merkel held a meeting in Paris, which came a day prior to the informal gathering of the 27 heads of states of the remaining EU members.

    "They [Hollande and Merkel] did not talk about the creation of the European army, they discussed the necessity to strengthen the capacity of the EU actions in the areas where operations are conducted at the EU initiative. We have come to reach progress on the issue," Le Drian told journalists before the informal meeting of EU Defense Ministers in Bratislava.

    He also stressed, that the EU army was the main topic of discussions which would last until the end of November. He expressed hope the bloc would achieve significant developments on the issue by the end of this year.

    The plans to merge the existing defense structures of the EU member states into a single army have been under discussion for years but never came to existence, partly due to the opposition from the United Kingdom, which has advocated that NATO should ensure the bloc's security. The country's decision to exit the European Union has revived the talks.

    The European Union currently has no army, but it encourages military cooperation between member countries, which already run joint operations.

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    army, Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, France, Germany
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