Defence ministers from nine European countries will meet in Paris on Wednesday to set out plans for a joint force that could rapidly be deployed in response to a conflict or natural disaster.
The meeting comes a day after French President Emmanuel Macron, who has pushed for a more muscular European defence policy since his arrival in power last year, called for a "real European army".
"We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States," he said.
But the idea of an "EU army" is highly sensitive in member states that jealously guard defence as a matter of national sovereignty.
The idea behind EI2 is to be able to rapidly mount a joint military operation, evacuate civilians, or provide aid after a disaster.
Wednesday's meeting is intended to lay out a "roadmap" identifying the nine countries' priorities -- including geographical zones of particular interest -- which senior military officials will develop from Thursday.
Plans for EI2 come as Trump has repeatedly distanced himself from the NATO military alliance, which has underpinned European security since World War II.
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