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More security for the EU and its citizens
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.
“We have activated a Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defence – ambitious and inclusive.25 Member States have committed to join forces on a regular basis, to do things together, spend together, invest together, buy together, act together. The possibilities of the Permanent Structured Cooperation are immense. "
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, December 2017
Deepening defence cooperation through binding commitments
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, contribute to the protection of EU citizens 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, decision-making will remain in the hands of participating Member States and the specific character of the security and defence policy of all Member States is taken into account.
Steps towards a Permanent Structured Cooperation
Under the guidance of the European Council, four major steps have now been successfully completed to establish PESCO:
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: On 13 November 2017, Ministers signed a common notification on the PESCO and handed it over to the High Representative and the Council – 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 20 binding common commitments the Member States have agreed to undertake, as well as proposals on the governance of PESCO.
Step 3: On 11 December 2017, the Council adopted a decision establishing PESCO and its list of participants. A total of 25 Member States have decided to participate in PESCO and agreed on a declaration identifying the first 17 collaborative PESCO projects, ranging from the establishment of a European Medical Command, an EU Training Mission Competence Centre, Cyber Rapid Response Teams and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security, to Military Disaster Relief and an upgrade of Maritime Surveillance.
Step 4: On 6 March 2018 the Council formally adopted a first set of 17 different projects and their participants as well as a Recommendation which sets out a roadmap for the further implementation of PESCO.
Structure and Governance
PESCO has a two-layer structure:
PESCO Secretariat: The European Defence Agency (EDA) and the EEAS, including the EU Military Staff, working together, provide a Secretariat function for PESCO, with a single point of contact for the participating Member States.
Assessment process: Each participating Member State is required to communicate every year a National Implementation Plan (NIP) to assess the fulfilment of the binding commitments they have made to one another. The High Representative will present annually a report on PESCO to the Council. On this basis, the Council will – also annually - review whether the participating Member States continue to fulfil the more binding commitments.
PESCO projects: The individual projects will be run by different groups of participating Member States. The general governance rules for PESCO projects will be adopted at Council level, as well as the general conditions under which third states may exceptionally be invited to participate in PESCO projects.
By May/June 2018 the Council should adopt the common set of governance rules for the projects, as well as a recommendation to sequence the fulfilment of the more binding commitments and to specify more precise objectives.
PESCO – an instrument relevant for the security of the EU and its citizens
PESCO as part of a comprehensive defence package
PESCO is closely connected to the new Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the European Defence Fund (EDF). They are complementary and mutually reinforcing tools contributing to the goal of enhancing Member States' defence capabilities:
 The participating Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.