EUROPE: A new era for defence cooperation
Europe vowed to turn a new page on security cooperation on Monday as 23 states came together to sign a mutual defence pact designed to transform military operations. The European Union countries officially launched a new era in defense cooperation with a program of joint military investment and project development aimed at helping the EU confront its security challenges.
The nations signed up to the process, known as permanent structured cooperation, or PESCO. Britain, which is leaving the EU in 2019, and Denmark, with a defense opt-out, were among those not taking part. With a focus on reacting and defending against Russian aggression, the new set-up effectively gives Brussels a formal role in the overall strategic defences across the continent.
France and Germany proposed the initiative last year as part of their efforts to breathe new life into the European project after Britain voted to leave the bloc. Britain’s impending departure made it easier to get the project off the ground as London has traditionally been skeptical about EU military cooperation, seeing NATO as the main vehicle for common European defense efforts.
EU officials insist this is not just bureaucratic cooperation, but real investment that will help develop Europe’s defence industry and spur research and development in military capabilities that the bloc needs most.
A first list of projects to be undertaken within the PESCO framework should be agreed by the participating member states once PESCO has been established. These could cover areas such as training, capabilities development and operational readiness in the field of defence.