PESCO, a historic moment in European defence, says Mogherini

On Monday 13th November 23 Member states (all except U.K., Ireland, Denmark, Malta and Portugal) approved and signed up to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).


his permanent framework for defence cooperation will allow those member states to improve defence capabilities through participation in well-coordinated initiatives and concrete common projects, potentially capitalizing on existing regional clusters.

The member states signed a joint notification, which sets up the principles of the PESCO and a list of 20 common commitments the member states have agreed to undertake.

At the signing ceremony Federica Mogherini said: « This is a historic moment in European defence, which just one year ago, most of us and most of the rest of the world considered impossible to achieve. »

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian recalled that there was “little enthusiasm” when it was first mooted.


A partial German win


ccording to the European press Germany seems to be the winner of this pact because its vision – an inclusive framework – prevailed over the French one (ambitious PESCO). However, the PESCO seems to be a balance between the two visions since the joint notification also recalls the objective to have an ambitious PESCO and member states are committed to participate in at least one project, which develops or provides capabilities.


 20 commitments for an ambitious PESCO


s members of the PESCO, member states have to regularly increase their defence budget in real terms with a medium-term increase in defence investment expenditure. The share of expenditure allocated to defence research and technology has to reach 2% of total spending.

After having identified capability shortcomings, member states will try to fill them with a European collaborative approach as much as possible. The members of PESCO will take part in at least one project under PESCO, which develops or provides capabilities.

Member states will also support the development of capabilities by supporting existing tools such as the coordinated annual review on defence (CARD), by optimizing the available resources, and by harmonizing requirements for all capability development projects agreed by participating member states.


The Council has now to adopt a decision establishing PESCO by qualified majority at the next Foreign Affairs Council (11 December). Diplomats expect Ireland and Portugal to sign on before then. Ireland’s involvement will go to Cabinet within a couple of weeks according to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, who seemed confident about the outcome.

However, the Member States have “time” to join the cooperation, which remains open – even after the Council’s vote.


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