NATO Ministers of Defense signed the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) agreement in Brussels on November 13. The members of both NATO and PESCO are mostly the same. Sometime in the future, PESCO may become a fully fledged EU Army. For now, PESCO is the main and only product of pan-European military cooperation in the realm of military logistics and weapon production.
For decades Europe couldn’t integrate its member states militarily. Back in 1954, the fathers of the European cooperation decided against forming the “European Defense Community”. All security concerns were delegated to NATO, which was backed by the US. Following the UK quitting the EU, and Donald Trump becoming President, Europe decided to take its security into its own hands, without depending so heavily on NATO. The dream of EU not depending on the US may be closer now than ever.
23 countries have signed up to the plan. Denmark, Ireland, Malta and Portugal did not join PESCO. They have an option to join the initiative later on, if they so desire. PESCO is voluntary for all 28 states, yet. Once you join, though, you have to accept the responsibilities and realize them. These responsibilities will be put to paper in the national plans. Non-EU countries can be invited to PESCO, for a “considerable fee.”
For now, this initiative concerns itself with raising military budgets and efficiency, trying to conserve as much resources as possible. They plan to increase cooperation between the militaries of the member-states. The ultimate aim of this whole shebang, as described by German Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel is to reach 65% efficiency of the US Army while spending 50% of its budget on it.
The budgets were discussed in June with establishing of a European Defense Fund. The starting sum is a meager €5.5 billion per year. How would the EU spend it though?
First, integrating all the security forces of the EU with each other, with a single security contour by 2021. Secondly, developing new technologies. The priority is given to unifying the armaments and the weapon systems in the region.
If these Napoleonic plans prove to be successful, PESCO will completely substitute the rigid and ineffective NATO. According to experts, managing this in such a short time is a very difficult feat, and is unlikely. But you can’t take away the fact that the plan is very ambitious. No matter if the whole idea is successful or not, this initiative is sure to play an important role in the fate of the continent.
If it is successful though, well that would mean Germany and France becoming new military and technological powerhouses. The Visegrad Four would provide the manpower for PESCO. Eastern Europe, Poland especially, has no lack of motivated and able young men ready to serve.