"I also welcome the debate which is now taking place on how to strengthen European defense and European defense cooperation. Because there is no contradiction between strong European defense and a strong NATO. Actually it reinforces each other," Stoltenberg told journalists ahead of the meeting with EU defense ministers in Bratislava.
Earlier in September, media reported that French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urging her "to take measures in the field of defense of European citizens" and calling for setting up the EU collective defense, a single EU military budget and a surveillance system.
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 been realized, partly due to the opposition from the United Kingdom. The country's decision to exit the European Union has facilitated the revival of the talks.