PESCO: Ahead of the strategic review

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Series Details PE 652.051
Publication Date September 2020
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Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) was launched in December 2017 with the participation of 25 EU Member States. It operates on the basis of concrete projects and binding commitments, several of which are geared towards strengthening the EU defence sector. PESCO members are committed to increasing national defence budgets and defence investment expenditure, and to investing more in defence research and technology. In addition, they have pledged to develop and provide 'strategically relevant' defence capabilities and to act jointly and make use of the financial and practical support provided by the European Defence Fund. Finally, they are committed to contributing to projects that boost the European defence industry and the European defence technological and industrial base.

Discussions on long-awaited rules on third-country participation in PESCO projects are ongoing in September 2020. A strategic review of PESCO should take place by the end of 2020. The review will assess PESCO's strengths and weaknesses and it is expected to provide new information aimed at improving the implementation and development of new EU defence capabilities and capacities through PESCO. Critics argue that the end goal of PESCO projects has still to be contextualised within the wider debate on an EU strategic culture and a concrete vision about the ambition of EU security and defence policy. They also emphasise the need to align PESCO priorities with those identified by parallel EU defence initiatives, as well as with the capability needs of the EU. The European Parliament is expected to vote on a resolution on PESCO in October 2020.

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