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MPCC : the new military headquarter of the EU

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker called for a common EU defence headquarters in September after the Brexit vote, resurrecting an idea that had circulated in the EU for years. Today, the European Union has approved plans for a military headquarters to coordinate overseas security operation, foreign and defence ministers of the 28 member states (Britain having long opposed it) "unanimously" backed the project.

The new MPCC (Military Planning Conduct and Capability facility) will command the EU's non-executive military missions. The facility will initially run three operations - civil-military training missions in Mali, the Central African Republic and Somalia - which do not involve the use of force, other than in self-defence. The MPCC will initially have a small staff of around 30 and come under the EU's existing military structures.

But top EU officials, including Ms Mogherini, have had to repeatedly issue reassurances that the bloc is not going to undercut NATO as the primary defence for Europe. Besides Britain, many of the former Communist states of eastern Europe such as Poland and Hungary have argued consistently that NATO must come first, given the need for US support in facing a more assertive Russia.

The EU has also mounted Operation Sophia in the central Mediterranean, which can use force to stop migrant smugglers, and Operation Atalanta, part of international antipiracy forces off the Horn of Africa, these executive operations have their own command centres which will remain separate.