After a period in which a multitude of defence initiatives have been taken in the European Union, 2018 is the year where implementation has to get off the ground. In December 2017, the Council launched Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). According to the Treaty, PESCO is meant to bring together all willing member states in the area of defence “whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria” and which have made “more binding commitments with a view to the most demanding missions”. High expectations have been raised. Therefore, the implementation of PESCO in 2018 and beyond is critical. PESCO has been launched under huge time pressure, including the selection of the first batch of 17 projects. Implementation has started while several governance issues still have to be resolved. After a quick start, the real test for PESCO is yet to come.
This Policy Brief has two aims. It looks at the implementation process of PESCO in 2018 with regard to the governance of PESCO as well as the projects. Particular attention is paid to the issues of the sequencing of PESCO commitments and third party participation in projects, both still requiring a Council decision. Secondly, author Dick Zandee addresses a more forward-looking question: to what extent can PESCO and its projects contribute to fulfilling the EU’s level of ambition? What types of projects are needed? How will other cooperation formats, such as President Macron’s European Intervention Initiative, relate to PESCO? The Policy Brief concludes with a set of recommendations on these questions.