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MEPs say EU should strengthen defence ties after Paris attacks
by Staff Writers
Strasbourg, France (AFP) Jan 21, 2016

France's decision to invoke the EU's mutual defence clause after the Paris attacks should serve as an incentive to step up security ties across the bloc, EU lawmakers said Thursday.

The 28 EU member states jealously guard their sovereign right to set defence policy but after the Islamic State November attacks left 130 dead across Paris, France called for their help to strike back against the jihadists.

In a resolution passed by 406 votes to 212, MEPs said the unprecedented use of Article 42-7 had forced countries into an "ad hoc" response and called on EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini to draw up guidelines on how it should be used in future.

Mogherini should "propose practical arrangements to ensure an efficient collective response in similar circumstances," said the parliament, which is based in the French city of Strasbourg.

Article 42-7 of the Lisbon Treaty allows EU members to request assistance from other member states in the event that one of them is attacked -- similar to NATO's Article 5, which the United States invoked after the 9/11 attacks to cover the US-led alliance's intervention in Afghanistan.

France invoked article 42-7 two days after the jihadist attacks in its capital, demanding assistance, including intelligence sharing, to fight the Islamic State group which claimed the attacks.

Several countries offered help, including Germany, which offered the use of its Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate, aerial refuelling and satellite images to back the fight against IS in Syria and Iraq.

MEPs said France's decision to use the measure should serve as a catalyst for a wider debate about how the EU works together on defence issues.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday that not every EU nation had responded to its call for help, although there had been "movement in the right direction."

"When you raise the question of defence, you raise a fundamental problem," he told reporters in Strasbourg. "Europe was not designed for that. There is a lot of work to be done to reinforce Europe's interior and exterior defence."

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