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.