EU Defence historic day: EU ministers agree implementation plan for closer military cooperation

EU ministers of defence on 06 March formally adopted the list of 17 projects for “permanent structured cooperation” (PESCO) in the field of defence, as well as a roadmap for the implementation of PESCO.

The Council of the EU today adopted a roadmap for the implementation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). PESCO foresees the possibility of a number of EU member states working more closely together in the area of security and defence in a binding and permanent framework. A first important step in this regard was taken end of last year, when ministers from 25 member states signed a joint notification indicating their willingness to move forward on PESCO and handed it over to the High Representative and the Council.

The roadmap adopted now provides strategic direction and guidance on how to structure further work on both processes and governance, including for projects and in relation to the sequencing of the fulfilment of commitments. It sets out a calendar for review and assessment of national implementation plans which detail how participating member states plan to fulfil the more binding commitments. The Council also adopted a decision formally establishing the initial list of 17 collaborative projects, which were agreed politically in December 2017. The projects cover areas such as training, capability development and operational readiness in the field of defence.

High Representative Mogherini highlighted that the Council was the first ever meeting in the formation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation: “it is a historic moment. The Ministers will take first formal decisions on the projects for Permanent Structured Cooperation” and on which member states will participate in each project.

The possibility of permanent structured cooperation was foreseen in the Lisbon Treaty which came into force in 2009. The EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) started in 2016 a process of closer cooperation in security and defence. This led amongst others to complementary initiatives such as the Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the establishment of a European Defence Fund (EDF), and the activation of PESCO aimed at enhanced coordination, increased investment in defence and cooperation in developing defence capabilities.

Military capacities developed within PESCO remain in the hands of member states that can also make them available in other contexts such as NATO. A stronger EU and a stronger NATO are mutually reinforcing in this context.

The 25 Member States participating in PESCO 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.