Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) is the most important issue that the member-states discussed today at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. Twenty-three out of 28 member states have signed PESCO: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. All 23 signed today a joint notification and handed it over to the High Representative Federica Mogherini.
It is a treaty-based framework and a process to deepen defense cooperation amongst EU Member States who are capable and willing to do so. It will enable Member States to jointly develop defense capabilities, invest in shared projects and enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces. Following today’s notification the Council should adopt a formal decision establishing PESCO by the end of the year, with the first projects to be identified in parallel.
The European Defence Fund launched by the Commission in June 2017 will boost collaborative projects in the area of defence research, prototype development and join acquisition of capabilities. Today’s joint notification marks an important step towards creating a fully-fledged European Defense Union by 2025, as President Juncker stressed in his State of the Union address on 13 September 2017.
“I believe that we need to take more seriously the provisions of the existing Treaty that allow those European countries who want to do this to progressively build up a common European defence. I know this is not for everybody. But those countries that would like to go ahead should be encouraged to do so. Pooling defence capacities in Europe makes perfect economic sense”, Juncker had said.
The other issues on the agenda
The Foreign Affairs Council, chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, started with a review of the pressing issues on the international agenda: the situation in Myanmar/Burma, EU-Africa relations and a debrief on her visit to Washington. The Council would be expected to adopt conclusions and to consider restrictive measures in view of the situation in Venezuela…/IBNA
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