European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Reuters: EU agrees defense budget increase as Britain lifts block
The European Union agreed on Tuesday to increase its military research budget for the first time since 2010 after Britain softened its opposition, a breakthrough that may signal British support for defense co-operation even once outside the bloc.
A day after agreeing a new defense plan aimed at making Europe less reliant on U.S. help, EU governments increased the 2017 funding of the European Defence Agency, which helps countries develop aircraft and other assets, by 1.6 percent, in line with inflation and taking the modest budget to 31 million euros ($33 million).
While well below the 6.5 percent rise the agency wanted, it was the first time in six years that Britain has not blocked an increase at the agency whose budget has shrunk 15 percent in real terms, EU officials said.
"It is still a symbolic increase," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference.
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WNU Editor: What a joke .... they increase spending to $33 million, and they are applauding themselves. The EU may want a military force that is independent from NATO and the U.S. .... but this dream is just a dream for the simple reason that the EU does not want to spend the money to have such an army.