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Research Report

Oratio pro PESCO

Sven Biscop
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2017
Published by: Egmont Institute
Pages: 16
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 2-3)

    Who really wants to do it? Since the Brexit referendum in the UK and the publication of the EU Global Strategy (EUGS) in June 2016, there has been a flurry of proposals by Member States to deepen defence cooperation in the context of the EU. Most notable among these were two Franco-German papers, first by the two foreign and then by the two defence ministers, and a proposal by the French, German, Italian and Spanish defence ministers. Most notable, because without both France and Germany involved, no initiative can reach the scale to make it worthwhile. And because if France,...

  2. (pp. 4-6)

    The problem is that Member States have been unwilling to seriously discuss the military level of ambition. Moreover the structures make it very difficult to discuss the overall European rather than a separate EU and NATO level of ambition. Yet if Member States seek to integrate their single set of forces through PESCO, the resulting force package must enable them to meet all their commitments, so the debate cannot focus on the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) alone.

    On the EU side, the EUGS defines three sets of military tasks. The first, protecting Europe, can imply operations on...

  3. (pp. 7-9)

    Here looms another risk. In order to make PESCO more palatable, “modular” and “projects” have become keywords, like in the European Council conclusions. That PESCO will be modular goes without saying. Not every Member State that joins PESCO will be expected to contribute to every capability area encompassed by PESCO, nor therefore to every project launched in the context of PESCO. But PESCO must be about a lot more than projects to develop or procure equipment. Member States can already sign up for projects in different constellations today – that is why the EDA exists. Calling this PESCO will not...

  4. (pp. 10-12)

    Stepping up cooperation is in the air. Not only is PESCO being discussed, many nations have also engaged in one of the three groups established under the heading of NATO’s Framework Nations Concept (FNC). The FNC reads like PESCO under a different name: the idea is for one or more larger nations to offer the framework, such as a corps or a headquarters, in which a number of smaller nations plug in with specific contributions, in order to achieve their NDPP targets together.⁶ A German proposal originally, it was never really made clear why Berlin thought NATO rather than the...

  5. (pp. 13-13)

    Until now, Member States write papers and give speeches about PESCO. Academics can do that – it doesn’t take a ministry of foreign affairs or defence. Those who really want to do PESCO now urgently have to come forward, before the window of opportunity closes again.

    If we do PESCO, we have to do it right. Using PESCO as no more than an umbrella under which to do various procurement projects means to waste PESCO, for Member States can do that already, via the EDA. Once set on this path, it will be very difficult to change course. We have...