POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Joint Belgium-Luxembourg army unit planned



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François Bausch onboard the Luxembourg A400M military transport plane stationed in Belgium. Photo: Kristof Moens 

Luxembourg and its neighbour Belgium are set to sign a letter of intent to establish a joint military unit, the defence ministry confirmed on Thursday. 

Defence minister François Bausch (déi Gréng) was in Melsbroek this week to inspect a Luxembourg A400M military plane stationed at the Belgian air base. Delivered in October last year, the A400M is the first aircraft in a joint Belgium-Luxembourg binational air transport unit. Belgium will contribute seven more A400M to the fleet.

The binational unit will carry out missions for Luxembourg and Belgium, the European Air Transport Command--which also includes the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and Spain--as well as Nato and the EU.

And it looks like cooperation between the Belgium and Luxembourg military is set to grow further. Belgian defence minister Ludivine Dedonder in March had confirmed talks about the possibility to form a joint unit. A letter of intent will be signed on 7 July during a meeting of officials from both countries in Luxembourg.

It remains to be seen where the unit will be stationed, the Luxembourg defence ministry said in a statement on 17 June, although Arlon has been floated as an option.

The land forces unit would form part of Nato defence planning, the ministry said. The grand duchy is looking to boost its defence spending as it remains far from achieving a pledge by Nato members to spend 2% of GDP on its military. In 2020, military spending amounted to roughly 0.6% of GPD. This is set to increase to 0.72% by 2024.

Luxembourg does not currently combat troops to conflict zones but participates in training and support missions. For example, 20 soldiers are currently taking part in an EU training mission in Mali. They deployed in May.