EU chief Juncker urges member states to boost defence spending

PRAGUE, June 9 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday EU's plans to deepen security and defence ties were not aimed at weakening North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Trump has demanded that NATO's 22 European Union members hike spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product on military budgets.

"It would be a disaster for the EU", Juncker told a Prague conference during which he made a call for more European defence in the view of the new U.S. President Donald Trump's lukewarm view of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Many defence projects are done on national level with no coordination, he added.

Juncker said it was up to the member states, not the European Union, to launch the programme.

The European Commission has launched debate on what direction EU defence cooperation should take once Britain leaves in 2019.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said the alliance welcomed the proposed fund.

"The more we pool our forces in a very concrete way on logistics, on transportation, on medical support, on training of the troops of these countries, the better for all of us", she said. "We're doing this because we need it, and we want it".

Warning that he is losing patience, Juncker said the drastic step of launching infringement proceedings aimed to make clear that "decisions that have been made are applicable rules, even if one voted against them".

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker speaks during a conference on European security held in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, June 9, 2017.

  • Leroy Wright