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Germany urges UK to not block EU reform

EU reform

With Britain voting to leave the EU in a national referendum, German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen has said she doesn't expect the UK to block any plans to deepen military cooperation between the remaining members.

There have been plans to strengthen collaborative defence plans, with Germany and France particularly championing the idea.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, member countries would be allowed to combine their defences, according to the European Commission’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Up until now, this provision in the agreement hasn't been used by any country and Britain has historically blocked moves towards it.

With the UK moving away from the EU, Ms von der Leyen expects the country to not block any reforms that would affect the remaining 27 members.

However, with talks about Britain's exit from the EU expected to take at least two years - and some experts thinking it will be the best part of a decade before the country actually leaves - there are doubts about how much clout the UK should have in the meantime on EU matters.

Speaking to Reuters, the German defence minister said she expected Britain to "make good its promise that it will not hinder important European Union reforms."

However, British defence secretary Michael Fallon said London would try and stop any attempts to duplicate something that already exists in NATO, according to a report in the Times.

The majority of EU members are also NATO allies, including the UK, France and Germany, but there have been calls for the bloc to be able to act without the US.

Although plans are still not completely clear, it is thought the initiative would involve a joint, permanent headquarters for EU civilian and military missions. Britain has shared concerns that this, which could possibly be situated in Brussels, would draw resources away from the NATO military centre currently in Belgium.

Ms Von der Leyen said the move would bring about a stronger Europe and that the 27-member bloc would continue to pursue good relations with Britain.

The German defence minister will meet with other EU representatives this week to discuss the potential of such action. However, Ms Von der Leyen has said the agreement won't be mandatory, but that all remaining 27 members will be able to join the initiative if they want to.​