The foreign and defense secretaries of 23 EU countries (out of 28 in total) agreed on Monday to take further steps towards forming a European defense force. Five countries opted out: The United Kingdom (that's is leaving the EU), Denmark, Ireland, Portugal and Malta. The defense union has been on the agenda for a long time and is called the Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO.
This chart shows the EU countries with the largest standing armies, according to data provided by GlobalFirePower.com. It counts in all active military personnel, so-called "ready-to-fight" elements, but not civilian employees or reservists. Italy has the biggest standing army, counting 248,000 Soldiers, followed by France and Germany.
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