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The EU is setting up the framework for deeper defence cooperation. For it to become a reality, the ball will next be in the camp of the EU member states, who will need to adhere to the binding commitments they have made.
This was one of the main conclusions of the discussion on the future of EU security and defence organised on 27 November by the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) which brought together policymakers, think tank representatives and academics. The gathering came as EU foreign ministers on 11 December are set to trigger Treaty provisions for "permanent structured cooperation" (PESCO) in the field of defence.
The discussion reflected the awareness that a lot has been achieved over recent months in the area of security and defence. But at the same time, it also became clear that PESCO as well as other newly established tools and instrument can only be successful, if EU member states push for concrete actions and adhere to their commitments. PESCO will require patience and trust building between EU member states, but it could lead to an unprecedented level of transparency and cooperation on defence between EU member state governments.
As pointed out by Nathalie Tocci, the Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali and Special Adviser to the HR/VP Federica Mogherini, the EU and its member states are currently on the starting rather than the finishing line towards more Security and Defence.
With the tools and instruments at hand, the EU member states are now well equipped to better plan together, enhance their capacity development and increase their ability to act together. The EU will also need to ensure coordination between PESCO and related initiatives for systematic monitoring of national defence spending plans and analysis of the implementation of the defence capability priorities identified by member states (CARD) and to provide financial incentives to foster defence cooperation (European Defence Fund).