The 10,000-strong military group, which has slowly been forming since December 2012 before plans for an EU-wide force, and is designed to either operate alone or jointly with Nato, United Nations or EU forces, sent invitations to the non-Nato countries this weekend.
Brussels ratified the creation of a single ‘super’ army that would cross the continent in November last year and is expected to cost UK taxpayers £420 million a year.
Lawmakers at the European Parliament voted 369-255 in favour of the proposals, which also calls for greater spending by nations on defence.
British and French paratroopers take part in an exercise in Scotland
The JEF, which does not have any permanent troops, covers ground forces as well as both air and naval units and is led by British commanders while other countries that participate contribute specialist skills and troops.
Other countries that signed a letter of intent include Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and the Netherlands with the aim to create a fully operational force before 2018 – although the grouping can already be used if needed.
Secretary of Defence Jussi Niinistö, 46, confirmed the move yesterday and added that it would be put before the parliamentary committees in the near future with a decision likely to be made this spring.
NATO training exercises Wed, June 8, 2016
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty
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Polish troops land with parachutes at the military compound near Torun, central Poland as part of the NATO Anaconda-16 military exercise
JEF is not a Nato force, but a British initiative and a British-led operation. This means that we can participate without any obligation to take part in operations
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist
Janne Kuusela from the Finnish Defence Ministry has been quoted in local media as saying: “Joining this force has to do with Nato, because the idea originated within Nato and the force acts within Nato’s scope as exercised by the states in question. They can decide for themselves whether to invite non-Nato countries in.
“The cooperation offer is based on Finland and Sweden being in a so-called enhanced partnership with Nato and we have a good history with joint operations with the UK.”
Finland added that it may need to upgrade its military hardware to fully integrate with JEF.
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist inspects a guard of honour
Mr Kuusela said: “Joining this force would have to somehow benefit Finland’s defence capabilities.
“We think that Finland’s military performance needs to be updated in the current global security environment, so the offer is quite interesting.
“But this will be carefully hashed out and only brought into the political sphere if we consider JEF worth joining.”
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Paratroopers from France and the UK take part in a joint exercise in Scotland
Sweden’s armed forces are also set to hold discussions about joining the force.
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter: “We have also held discussions with Finland and will undertake a joint analysis of potential participation in JEF. We will coordinate our position on this.”
Finland's President Sauli Niinistö (L) welcomes Russia's President Vladimir Putin
And Sweden has pursued a foreign policy of non-alignment and has refused to join Nato it appears that joining the JEF is a possibility.
Mr Hultqvist said: “JEF is not a Nato force, but a British initiative and a British-led operation. This means that we can participate without any obligation to take part in operations.”
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