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Opening the Annual Conference of the European Defence Agency EDA on 23 November, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini called the letter notifying the intention of 23 Member States to embark on a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on defence "probably the most important moment for European defence in decades".
"The possibilities that the Permanent Structured Cooperation opens are immense," said Mogherini. "All the building blocks of a Security and Defence Union are finally there, today. We can now project and develop our defence capabilities together; we can buy together, to ensure that we have all the capabilities we need, while spending efficiently; and we can act together much better than before, to manage or prevent crises, to strengthen our partners, to make our citizens more secure."
Noting the political will which allowed European defence cooperation to advance rapidly over the last year, the High Representative said that "there are a lot of expectations for us to develop our role as a security provider" internally and globally, "because these times we are living in require a responsible security provider in the world, a reliable one."
"In the last few months we have already set up a number of new initiatives and structures that will help us to do so. We established a Hybrid Fusion Cell within the [European] External Action Service, and we inaugurated together with NATO the European Centre for Countering Hybrid Threats in Helsinki, under the leadership of Finland and other EU Member States."