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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.
“We did it. In the most ambitious and inclusive manner, with 25 Member States, we launched PESCO together. The 25 have taken binding commitments to improving their cooperation, and we will start with a first set of very concrete 17 projects spanning from common military training, to providing medical support to our operations. The possibilities of the PESCO are immense."
High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherini, 12 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, 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.
Structure and Governance
PESCO has 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).
Steps towards a PESCO
Under the guidance of the European Council, three 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 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.
Step 3: On 11 December 2017, the Council adopted a decision establishing PESCO and its list of participants. With Ireland and Portugal also notifying their decision to join, a total of 25 Member States have decided to participate in PESCO. The participating Member States also agreed a declaration identifying the first 17 collaborative PESCO projects, in the area of capability development and in the operational dimension 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.
In the beginning of 2018 Member States participating in PESCO will adopt a Council decision on the list of projects to be developed under PESCO.
A common set of governance rules for projects, as well as general conditions under which third States could be invited to participate in individual projects, will be further discussed and decided by the PESCO Member States in the Council.
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), 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:
 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.