EU countries creating cyber force at Lithuania's initiative (Updated)

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EU member states are starting the formation of rapid response cyber forces at the initiative of Lithuania.

Updates throughout.

The defense ministers of Lithuania, Estonia, Spain, Croatia, the Netherlands and Romania signed a letter of intent on the matter in Luxembourg on Monday. France, Poland and Finland will join the initiative by the end of this year.

"Six countries have signed and another three will do so in the course of this year," Vice Minister of National Defense Edvinas Kerza told BNS Lithuania on Monday.

The EU countries plan to form rotational EU cyber teams to respond to major cyber incidents in EU member states.

Now discussions will be held with EU institutions on a possibility to use EU budget funds for the acquisition of hardware and software.

The rotation schedule is set to be approved later this year. Four countries – Belgium, Greece, Slovenia and Germany –are joining the project as observers.

The formation of cyber forces is one of the first projects under the agreement on closer EU defense cooperation, signed last year.

"It's the most visible, most advanced and most realistic PESCO projects," Kerza said.

Lithuania has been skeptical about the EU's military cooperation, concerned that it may overlap NATO activity and weaken the United States' role in Europe. But US President Donald Trump's criticism towards the Alliance and Britain's' decision to leave the EU has changed Lithuania's position.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said during the State of the Nation Address earlier this month that Lithuania should not be afraid of being at the forefront of EU integration "because we will be strong only if we join our efforts in military, energy, cyber and economic security".

Source: BNS
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