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Germany ready for more responsibility in EU military cooperation: Defense minister

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen attends a press conference to present the new military roadmap, her ministry's so-called White Paper, in Berlin, on July 13, 2016. (Photos by AFP)

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen says that her country’s military is ready for a larger role in European defense cooperation.

"Change is necessary. Isolation and self-blockades will not solve the problems we face in the world, in Europe, or here in our country," she said during a biennial gathering of 200 high-ranking military officials in Berlin on Monday.

Von der Leyen noted that the German Finance Ministry has accepted to increase defense spending by to a total of 10 billion euros by 2020 for the procurement of equipment and personnel.     

“Germany is ready to engage ... to take more responsibility…This is the right path, but it will require an enormous commitment of time and money," she stressed.

Germany and France have been engaged in a push to bolster European defense cooperation since the UK’s June vote to leave the EU. So far, Italy and Spain have backed the proposal, but Britain is against it, claiming increased EU security cooperation may have an adverse effect on the NATO alliance.      

Earlier in the month, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said that the UK will continue opposing a European Union army as long as it remains a member of the bloc because such an army would undermine the NATO military alliance.  

Mountain infantry soldiers stand in front of a troops transporter "Boxer" after an exercise of the mountain infantry brigade 23 of the German Bundeswehr near the Bavarian village Bad Reichenhall, southern Germany, on March 23, 2016.

"Germany is not making itself out to be bigger than it is, but also not smaller than it is," said von der Leyen.

She further stressed that the bolstering EU security cooperation was not aimed at competing with NATO, and that Europe required new structures, such as a central medical command to deal with crises such as Africa’s Ebola epidemic, a joint logistics command based on the present European transportation command, and further joint efforts towards the development of new equipment and arms.   

"We must be able to react quickly," she added, noting that current response time to incidents is very low.

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