Four months after signing a joint notification on the establishment of a European Union defence pact known as PESCO, ministers from 25 Member States are meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to take their first formal steps towards creating an EU-wide military.

The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, has already called the gathering a “historical” meeting, as it is the first time that a long bandied-about project to develop a common European defence structure has moved past the theoretical stages.

“It is a historical day for the Council because, for the first time ever, the (defence) ministers will make their first formal decisions on projects related to PESCO and the Member States who are participating in these projects,” said Mogherini at the doorstep of the Council’s meeting.

PESCO is a TEU-based framework, which allows member states to develop joint defence capabilities and make them available for EU military operations. The project has long been viewed as a EU’s attempt to work outside of NATO’s central command umbrella and establish a self-sufficient, trans-national “European” military.

The project, however, languished for decades until November last year when 25 of the Member States reached a consensus to jointly develop and deploy their armed forces.