The ministers of defence, as well as the foreign ministers of the EU Member States agreed to establish a joint intelligence school for the training and development of new hardware, including unmanned aircraft, drones and e-war technologies, as part of the plans for what could be “EU army” one day.

“The joint EU Intelligence School” will “provide education and training in intelligence disciplines and other specific areas for the needs of EU member states’ intelligence staff,” said in a press release after ministers met in Brussels on Monday (November 19th).

The project must be led by Cyprus and Greece – two traditionally friendly with Russia countries – in a situation of increased tensions in regard to Russian covert operations in Europe and the countries of the Western Balkans, including murder attempts in Britain and in Montenegro.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) already has a joint intelligence capacity called IntCen or the European Intelligence and Situation Centre. However, not all of the 28 Union Member States are involved in its work, which remains limited to providing a “strategic” crisis analysis in the EU’s neighbourhood and the fight against terrorism, rather than sharing “operational” data, information on specific threats and specific actors on the basis of which EU Member States could take action.

The Spy School was one of the 17 new ideas agreed on Monday with a contractual clause allowing small groups of Member States to continue with military initiatives across the Union.

The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy and Spain must start the development of a new military drone by 2025. The Czech Republic and Italy will build another pilot system designed to “counter the threat of small unmanned aviation systems”. The Czech Republic and Germany will establish a new “permanent force” aimed at “supporting the activity of the so-called EU combat groups with unique e-war capabilities”.

EU Battle Groups are joint forces of EU countries intended to be deployed in crisis situations in Africa and the Middle East within a short timeframe. They have been established since 2007 but have never been dispatched on the ground due to disagreements in the EU Council, which acts through a consensus on defence matters.

Finally, France, Germany, Spain will also build a new generation of combat helicopters.

Meanwhile, a new EU external service command centre in Brussels, which is engaged in military training abroad, will receive an upgrade to enable it to manage missions with a number of up to 2,500 people.

“This is an important step forward,” said the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini in regard to the new initiatives.