By the European Union
• The majority of EU nations have committed to a joint defense cooperation, focusing on military operations and investments. Europe is looking to cement unity, especially since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.
Defense and foreign ministers from 23 European Union countries signed up to a plan to establish the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which will allow countries to cooperate more closely on security operations and building up military capability.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the signing of PESCO as a “historic moment in European defense.”
The decision to launch PESCO indicates Europe’s move towards self-sufficiency in defense matters instead of relying solely on NATO. The EU, however, also stressed that PESCO is complimentary to NATO, in which 22 of the EU’s 28 countries are members.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the launch, saying that he saw it as an opportunity to “strengthen the European pillar within NATO.” Stoltenberg had previously urged European nations to increase their defense budget.
“I’m a firm believer of stronger European defense, so I welcome PESCO because I believe that it can strengthen European defense, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO,” Stoltenberg said.
Who is involved?
Jan Oberg comments:
There are, in reality, numerous reasons why the EU will have serious difficulties – and always has had – in establishing an “EU Defence”. It’s worth noting that the then Estonian EU Presidency states very clearly here that “The goal of PESCO is to support NATO. At the same time, it obligates member states to contribute to the EU’s combat unit.”
There will be an eternal dilemma for European NATO and EU member to pay more and more to both organisations. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has stated that Europe cannot rely in the future on the US and Britain, implying that it must rely more on itself.
Another serious, and more intellectual, problem is that in spite of Mme Mogherini’s competent foreign policy leadership, the EU has hardly ever been able to speak with one voice at any single, important foreign policy issue. National foreign policy is still the preferred style.
And one of the few times it was able to was when the Union as union recognised Croatia and Slovenia out of then existing Yugoslavia without the faintest idea about what to do with rest-Yugoslavia and thereby made the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina de facto unavoidable.
Without a consistent record of being able to speak with one voice in foreign policy matters – and that is stated as a goal in the Lisbon treaty – it is difficult to see how it will ever speak with one voice in military defence matters.
And, finally, the Lisbon Treaty states as the EU’s highest goal is to contribute to peace – inside and in the rest of the world. That cannot be achieved – simply cannot – with predominantly military means. Unless the EU shall also prepare itself in a fundamentally new manner to also work for the UN Charter norm of making peace by peaceful means, the political and economic investments in an outdated military defence thinking if highly likely to create more troubles for the Union than benefits in the years to come.