The agreement envisions a Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, which is meant to give the European Union a more coherent role in tackling global crises, follows the announcement of a $6.4-billion European Defense Fund last June. Countries not signing up on Monday will be able to join PESCO later, and the deal also includes provisions for non-EU members, which would include Britain, to take part in specific projects.
European Union Foreign Ministers, who are meeting on Monday in Brussels, will hear EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini report on her recent lobbying trip to the us on the Iran nuclear deal.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described it as a "historic moment in European defense", and added that "23 member states engaging booth on capabilities and on operational steps is something big".
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European Union officials have identified defense as an area where they have made progress on multiple fronts since Britain voted to leave.
The possibility of the Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defence security and defence policy was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. Britain - a nuclear power with permanent veto power at the UN Security Council - has always been fiercely opposed to anything that might lead to the creation of an "EU army" commanded by Brussels.
Earlier this year, the European Commission launched a major financial incentive for countries to cooperate on defense procurement, with a new European Defense fund worth €5.5 billion per year.
Chance of rain on Tuesday
We will see increasing clouds through the day and some showers could come through late in the evening to the overnight hours. There will be a 20-30 percent chance of isolated showers through the day with drizzle likely for most.
PESCO is meant to lead to deeper military cooperation within the European Union, project financing, development of military technology and strengthening of the EU's defense industry.
Mogherini said the move would complement NATO's security aims. "The real problem is not how much we spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner".
Defence experts said the success of the new project would only be clear when Paris and Berlin resolved their competing visions for European-wide military cooperation.
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Participants have signed up to a list of commitments which "include increasing the share of expenditure allocated to defense research and technology with a view to nearing the 2 percent of total defense spending" and to "regularly increasing defense budgets in real terms".