Deepening Defence Cooperation among EU Member States
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Towards more security for the EU and its citizens
In light of a changing security environment, the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) started a process of closer cooperation in security and defence. Member States agreed to step up the European Union's work in this area and acknowledged that enhanced coordination, increased investment in defence and cooperation in developing defence capabilities are key requirements to achieve it.
This is the main aim of a Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence (PESCO), as outlined in the Treaty of the EU, Articles 42 (6) and 46, as well as Protocol 10. Through PESCO, Member States increase their effectiveness in addressing security challenges and advancing towards further integrating and strengthening defence cooperation within the EU framework.
“PESCO is the outcome of good teamwork, high ambition on the common commitments that will now need to translate into concrete projects of cooperation, but also of an inclusive process. It is an example of how the European Union can serve Member States' priorities, can be efficient and effective and how our integration is serving our citizens priorities - in this case, the need to have a more integrated security and defence approach."
- Federica Mogherini, 13 November 2017
PESCO is a Treaty-based framework and process to deepen defence cooperation amongst EU Member States who are capable and willing to do so. The aim is to jointly develop defence capabilities and make them available for EU military operations. This will thus enhance the EU’s capacity as an international security partner, also contributing to protection of Europeans and maximise the effectiveness of defence spending.
The difference between PESCO and other forms of cooperation is the binding nature of the commitments undertaken by participating Member States. However, participation remains voluntary and decision-making will remain in the hands of participating Member States.
PESCO will have a two-layer structure:
Only PESCO members are voting, decisions are taken by unanimity (except decisions regarding the suspension of membership and entry of new members which are taken by qualified majority).
Under the guidance of the European Council, three major steps are foreseen to establish PESCO:
1. Step: Member States presented a list of common commitments in September 2017 in the main areas of Protocol 10 to the Treaty, notably defence investment, capability development and operational readiness.
2. Step: On 13 November 2017, Ministers from 23 Member States signed a common notification on the PESCO and handed it over to the High Representative and the Council. The common notification is the first formal step to set up the PESCO. It sets out the principles, in particular underlining the binding and inclusive character of the legal framework, a list of binding common commitments the Member States have agreed to undertake, as well as proposals on the PESCO governance.
3. Step: Following the notification, a Council decision establishing PESCO to be adopted by qualified majority before the end of 2017.
PESCO is closely connected to the new Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the European Defence Fund (EDF), which is currently being developed under the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. They are complementary and mutually reinforcing tools contributing to the same political goal: