EU Defence: the realisation of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)

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Series Details CBP-8149
Publication Date 23/09/2019
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In 2013 EU Leaders agreed that greater effort was required in the field of European defence and an implementation plan for CSDP was subsequently agreed in November 2016. The Plan was described as raising 'the level of ambition of the European Union’s security and defence policy', and among its aims was the utilisation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) mechanism that was first set out in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.

Under the PESCO concept a smaller group of eligible, willing, Member States would be able to adopt decisions regarding greater military cooperation, therefore moving forward in certain areas without the full approval of all EU Member States. At the European Council summit in June 2017 leaders agreed 'on the need to launch an inclusive and ambitious Permanent Structured Cooperation' and a notification of interest to establish PESCO was subsequently presented in October 2017.

Twenty three EU Member States initially signed the Joint Notification, which set out the principles of PESCO, proposals on PESCO governance and the overall ambition for the project. Annex II of the Joint Notification also set out 20 specific defence policy commitments that participating states will have to meet, including defence spending targets, the harmonisation of requirements and greater collaboration in capability development. Ireland and Portugal subsequently notified the Council of their decision to join PESCO bringing the number of participating states to 25.

A decision establishing PESCO was formally adopted by the Council of Ministers in December 2017. Denmark, Malta and UK remain outside of PESCO. Only participating Member States will have decision making rights with regard to PESCO. Those State which remain outside of the mechanism will have no powers or voting rights over projects or the future strategic direction of the initiative.

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