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Defending together

December 9, 2010

Ahead of a defense ministers' meeting in Brussels, the German defense minister says he supports more European military cooperation. In a time of austerity, resources should be shared, said Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg meets with soldiers in Afghanistan
Military cooperation will benefit everyone, said GuttenbergImage: AP

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said he is willing for Germany's military to share some of its duties with other armies in Europe.

In an opinion piece written for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily on Thursday, Guttenberg said there could be a "sharing of roles and duties" among European countries.

In Brussels later Thursday, Guttenberg together with his Swedish counterpart Sten Tolgfors will present a project advocating reinforced European military cooperation. European defense ministers are meeting to examine how to make up for the general cut in military budgets due to widespread austerity measures.

Pooling of skills and materials

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
The EU proposals follow strict military budget cuts in GermanyImage: AP

Guttenberg said some military duties are essential for each nation and would "remain within the national competence."

However the "scarcity of resources in all nations " means that the pooling of skills and equipment to support European partners is important.

"The commitment to European defense must be more than just lip service," Guttenberg said in the article. "By intensifying our military cooperation, we will all benefit in the end."

The minister suggested three categories of cooperation. The first would cover military duties that are simply in the national interest and can be handled alone. The second would be a "straight collaboration between partners, without them abandoning national responsibilites." In the third category, there were duties for which "one could lean on a European partner."

Examples of cooperation in the last two categories include joint financing of research and development, training and shared use of materials.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa/AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner