Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

Give PESCO a chance

(credit: EUNAVFOR Atalanta)

(B2) Critics are already flying in on 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

Certainly, this is not the first time that Europe's defense (or European defense) is " revived ". My friend Frédéric Mauro has counted at least three “relaunches” which have sunk into the sand: the Treaty of Maastricht, St Malo in 1998 and the Commission's defense package in 2007-2009. By refraining from adding the Lisbon Treaty, we are still on 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.

Of course, 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, however, can we sell the bear's skin before seeing its 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), healthy peer emulation, around twenty projects intended to make this commitment a reality and coordinated planning systems which have not yet been put in place.

Basing itself on past experiences to predict the failure of PESCO is a gamble. Postulating its success is just as daring. No, PESCO is undoubtedly not the panacea for European defense. 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 could fuel the system or compensate for certain failures. In short, no excitement, but no pessimism either. And above all, let's not play Cassandra... In a year or two, if 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 management position at the European Defense Agency remember a manager who was much less “active” on defense Europe, or even reluctant. “ He wasn't as enthusiastic back then and not the last when it came to blocking a project » confided a European official at the time.

(2) A binding commitment is, in my opinion, a “controlled” device, at several levels: by a democratically elected assembly, a court of justice, and documents made public. Not only are none of these criteria immediately met, 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).