Monday, November 13 2017 21:41 EET
Europe
EU launches own military alliance
EU, launches, military alliance, PESCO, NATO, Europe, Mogherini,

The EU has moved a step closer towards having a joint military force by signing an agreement on a permanent command structure.

The agreement on PESCO, or Permanent Structured Cooperation, was signed in Brussels by 23 members of the 28-strong European Union on Monday. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini supported the move, hailing it as an “historic moment.” Backed by a €5-billion ($6.5-billion) EU defense fund, PESCO “will enable member states to use the economy of scale of Europe and in this manner to fulfil the gap of output that we have.”

The agreement will come into force in December, after which members will be legally bound to participate in projects under PESCO. Work on the pact started last year amid uncertainty over the UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union, and US President Donald Trump’s continued criticism of European NATO members for failing to deliver on defense-spending commitments.

Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is an ambitious, binding and inclusive legal framework aimed at incentivising defence cooperation among member states. PeSCo is based on binding commitments between member states that could promote increased defence spending, improve force commitments for EU operations and stimulate European defence equipment programmes. In addition to the regular assessment of these commitments, PeSCo will also house a number of concrete projects designed to improve the effectiveness of EU military operations and to sustain European capability development. Taken together, these elements are designed to potentially shape national mindsets and practices in defence through a structured framework at the EU level.

PESCO is touted as a path to boost the efficiency of the European military by eliminating redundancies, streamlining defense acquisitions, and boosting logistics through a network of hubs spread across the continent. It is also intended to establish joint training of military officers. NATO’s attempt to reform the contribution of European allies goes along similar lines.