EU proposes plan to boost defense after Trump hints at breaking up alliance

The European Union outlined Tuesday a new blueprint for cooperating on defense and security after U.S. President Donald Trump said the bloc should spend more on its military.

The 27 other countries in the bloc pledged Tuesday to launch negotiations in the coming months on the Multiannual Financial Framework for cooperation on defense and security, part of an overhaul of EU institutions.

Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told reporters after a meeting of the organization’s foreign ministers in Brussels that the bloc already has a “strong common defense,” with a common crisis management mission in Africa and a common system for rapid deployment of forces.

But the 28-nation, 15-billion-euro ($16 billion) EU military budget is dwarfed by the vast American military budget, which came to $539 billion in 2017.

Trump, who holds elections in November, has said that he wants NATO members to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024 and to spend more on improving defense capability.

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