28 countries backed the Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) with a view to it taking over this spring.
The embryonic military headquarters has long been opposed by Britain, the bloc’s leading military power, but the idea was revived by Germany and France after the British voted to leave the EU.
The organisation would command the bloc’s “non-executive military missions”, within the existing EU military staff of the European External Action Service (EEAS). These include the three military training missions the bloc now runs in Mali, Somalia and Central African Republic.
“These missions are important for peacekeeping but also for security in the region,” said Carmelo Abela, foreign minister of Malta, whose country chairs the rotating presidency of the EU.
In the future, this could also cover any capacity-building, monitoring or demobilisation and disarmament military missions.
“We are progressing steadily towards strengthened defence cooperation and we will continue to do more,” EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said after the ministers’ meeting.
It is currently compromised of 30 personel and is designed to simplify the reporting from the (now 3) EU missions to this staff and from there a single report to Brussels.