Security and Defence

Give PESCO a chance
29 May 2018 13:30 - 18:30
Bron: Nordic Battle Group-Irish Defence Forces/flickr

This expert meeting was organised by Egmont, the Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels, and the Clingendael Institute and was upon invitation only. 

Many European politicians and officials have marked Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) as a breakthrough in European defence cooperation. Many think tank experts and other observers have been somewhat more sceptical. The US administration seems quite convinced that it will have an impact, to the extent even that it has expressed concern about the cohesion of NATO. Therefore, expectations about PESCO are high. Originally designed to form a core group on defence, PESCO seeks to replace voluntary with binding commitments, in order to ensure that member states stick to them. Naturally, the purpose of it all is to make Europeans more capable of safeguarding their own security. The extent to which PESCO can really make a difference depends on how it will now be implemented.

During this international expert seminar participants addressed both the strategic and the capability dimension of PESCO:

  • Panel 1, chaired by Margriet Drent, addressed the purpose of PESCO’: What is the level of ambition that the participating Member States seek to achieve? Will this allow them to achieve strategic autonomy, an objective introduced by the EU Global Strategy? And how does this relate to NATO commitments and the transatlantic link more broadly? Lastly, looking beyond implementation, can we discern the emergence of a more ambitious PESCO in terms of, for instance, projects, defence alignment and a “core group”? 
  • Panel 2, with panel member Dick Zandee, looked at how PESCO can be made to work: Once the objectives are defined, how can Member States make the most of this new instrument and select the right capability projects? How will the link with the European Commission and its European Defence Fund be operationalised? And how can PESCO, CARD and the NATO Defence Planning Process work together? 

The aim of the seminar was to identify obstacles, limitations and opportunities in order to put forward concrete recommendations to make PESCO work. For the sake of the security of Europe: we need to give PESCO a chance.

This expert seminar was held under the Chatham House Rule.

This event could have been recorded by photo, film or sound, or broadcasted by live-stream via internet.