Although virtually unknown, the European Defence Agency could be a vital element if the EU hopes to forge tighter defence links in the future.

Currently, the organisation has a relatively tiny budget, staff of just 130 people, and is run by diplomats not military chiefs.

But there have been suggestions the EDA could become the European equivalent of the Pentagon – the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence.

While EU officials raised its military budget from £26.2 to £26.6 million on Tuesday, the sum pales in comparison to the Pentagon’s £464.5 million.

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