Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

Give PESCO a chance

(credit: EUNAVFOR Atalanta)

(B2) Critics are already swirling around the Permanent Structured Cooperation. Which is premature, since it has not yet started. However, we must be careful not to "denigrate" for the sake of it... Europe could well surprise us.

Well established reviews

Admittedly, this is not the first time that the Europe of defense (or European defence) has been " revived ". My friend Frédéric Mauro has counted at least three "revivals" that sank into the sand: the Treaty of Maastricht, St Malo in 1998 and the Commission's defense package in 2007-2009. By being careful not to add the Treaty of Lisbon, we are still at the fourth attempt. This Cooperation is less ambitious than expected, the concept of pioneer states was abandoned “, criticizes the British researcher Nick Whitney in a lyrical flight entitled “ EU defense efforts miss the open goal again (1). Other experts are multiplying to express their doubts about this Cooperation.

Certainly, the finished product is not a revolution. We are far from the initial avant-garde hard core project. The commitments, even if they are politically binding, will not be so in practice (2). But, for all that, can we sell the skin of the bear before seeing the tail? We must take Structured Cooperation for what it is: a political process which is starting, with a clear commitment from all the Member States (or almost), a healthy emulation by peers, around twenty projects intended to concretize this commitment and coordinated planning mechanisms that have not yet been put in place.

To rely on past experiences to predict PESCO's failure is a gamble. To postulate its success is equally audacious. No, PESCO is probably not the panacea for European defence. However, we can recognize that today there is a happy conjunction of ingredients – political, financial, operational, technical – which have never been brought together and which can produce results. And the context of crises at the international level could be a powerful engine that can fuel the system or remedy certain shortcomings. In short, no excitement, but no pessimism either. And above all, let's not play the Cassandre... In a year or two, if ever this Cooperation does not produce all the expected effects, there will always be time to criticize it. Waiting for... Give PESCO a chance!

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) Those who knew Nick Whitney in his post as director of the European Defense Agency remember a manager who was much less “in-the-know” about European defence, and even reluctant. " He wasn't as keen back then and not the last when it came to blocking a project said a European official at the time.

(2) A binding commitment is, in my view, a "controlled" device, at several levels: by a democratically elected assembly, a court of law, and documents made public. Not only are none of these criteria met from the outset, but they are even excluded.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).