PESCO: MEPs call Member States to deepen defence cooperation at EU level  

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  • Stronger focus on joint European defence needed 
  • A more ambitious EU budget to strengthen defence capabilities 

The EU’s overall level of security and defence would be higher if an effective EU system for the coherent, strategic and joint use of resources would be in place, say MEPs.

No member state can protect itself alone against the common multifaceted threats that the EU faces in its security and defence today, warn MEPs in the resolution on the implementation and governance of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).


In their recommendations to the Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, adopted on Wednesday by 464 votes in favour, 90 against and 137 abstentions, MEPs stress that member states participating in PESCO projects should be encouraged to evolve from a strictly national focus on defence to a stronger European one and prioritise using a more European collaborative approach.


An effective EU system for efficient, coherent, strategic and joint use of resources would be advantageous for the EU’s overall level of security and defence and is necessary, more than ever, in a security environment that is quickly deteriorating, point out MEPs.


More ambition in the EU budget for defence capabilities


They warn that member states should not reduce their defence spending in the coming years, and especially their financial involvement in European cooperative projects. There should be more ambition in the EU budget to strengthen defence capabilities, they say, by sufficiently financing the future European Defence Fund (EDF) and the military mobility project in the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework.



MEPS note that several of the 47 PESCO projects, if funded accordingly, could strengthen member states’ preparedness, should another massive public health crisis occur. They also stress that, in order to better counter the hybrid threats, increasing efforts to cooperate on cyber defence are needed, such as information sharing, training and operational support.



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The rapporteur Radosław Sikorski (EPP, PL) said: ”It is not only crucial to continue investing in the development of defence and security capabilities to protect our citizens, it is also crucial to act jointly to maximise the effectiveness of defence spending and reduce duplications. The cost of non-Europe in security and defence is estimated to be of billions of euro per year. We need to finally activate a Treaty based common EU defence policy. It costs less.”



Background

PESCO is a Treaty-based framework and process to deepen defence cooperation amongst EU member states by jointly developing defence capabilities and making them available for EU military operations. Member states participating in PESCO are under a legal obligation to implement 20 binding commitments to invest, plan, develop and operate defence capabilities together, within the Union framework.

The decision to participate is voluntary and currently PESCO projects are dependent on the 25 participating member states’ financial contributions. At the moment, there are 47 PESCO projects, in various domains from joint training to maritime or cyber security, and cooperation in the development of air systems.