Permanent Structured Cooperation

European Union defence policy agreement
  PESCO States
  Non-PESCO EU States
Formation2018TypeFramework for structural integration within the Common Security and Defence Policy, based on Article 42.6 of the Treaty on European Union
25 member statesWebsite

The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is the part of the European Union's (EU) security and defence policy (CSDP) in which 25 of the 27 national armed forces pursue structural integration (the exceptions being Denmark and Malta). Based on Article 42.6 and Protocol 10 of the Treaty on European Union, introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, PESCO was first initiated in 2017.[1] The initial integration within the PESCO format is a number of projects which launched in 2018.[2]

Together with the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the European Defence Fund and the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) it forms a new comprehensive defence package for the EU.[1]

PESCO is similar to enhanced co-operation in other policy areas, in the sense that integration does not require that all EU member states participate.



In 2009 the Treaty of Lisbon (signing depicted) entered into force, enabling permanent structured cooperation in defence between a subset of willing member states.

PESCO was first written into the European Constitution under Article III-312, which failed ratification, and then into the Treaty of Lisbon of 2009. It added the possibility for those members whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) within the EU framework. PESCO was seen as the way to enable the common defence foreseen in Article 42, but the scepticism towards further integration that had arisen around the rejection of the European Constitution meant its activation was unlikely. It was termed, by President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Lisbon Treaty's "sleeping beauty".[3][4]

In the 2010s, the geopolitical landscape around the EU began to change, triggering a series of crises. The Libyan Civil War, the Syrian Civil War and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant caused the European migrant crisis. Russia intervened in Ukraine in 2014, annexing Crimea and triggering an ongoing conflict in the country over the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement. In 2016, Donald Trump who was elected as President of the United States has been critical of NATO allies, even refusing on several occasions to back the mutual defence clause; and the United Kingdom, one of the EU's two largest military powers, voted in a referendum to withdraw from the EU.[4][5]

This new environment, while very different from the one PESCO was designed for, gave new impetus to European defence cooperation. The withdrawal of the UK, historically an opponent of that cooperation, gave further hope of success. At a rally in Bavaria, Angela Merkel argued that: “The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over ... I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.” In late 2016, the EU put defence co-operation on its post-Brexit Bratislava and Rome declarations.[4][5]

There was some disagreement between France and Germany about the nature of PESCO. France foresaw a small but ambitious group with serious capabilities making major practical leaps forward; while Germany, weary of further divisions in the EU, wanted a more inclusive approach that could potentially include all states, regardless of their military capability or willingness to integrate. Further, for Germany, it was about building capabilities and giving a post-Brexit signal of unity, whereas France was focused on operations and looking for help for its overstretched African deployments. Their compromise was to re-imagine PESCO as a process. PESCO would be inclusive, but not all states had to take part in all projects and progress would be phased allowing the development of new, common capabilities without having to resolve larger differences on end-goals first. Further, states would not need to already have capabilities, but merely pledge to work towards them. This allowed France's idea of improving military capabilities without shutting out states who did not already attain the threshold.[6][7]


On 13 November 2017, Foreign and Defence Ministers from 23 EU states signed the Joint notification on setting up PESCO in a Foreign Affairs Council chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini.

On 7 September 2017, an agreement was made between EU foreign affairs ministers to move forward with PESCO with 10 initial projects.[8][9][1][10] The agreement was signed on 13 November by 23 of the 28 member states. Ireland and Portugal notified the High Representative and the Council of the European Union of their desire to join PESCO on 7 December 2017[11] and PESCO was activated by the 25 states on 11 December 2017 with the approval of a Council Decision.[12][13] Denmark did not participate as (prior to its abolition in July 2022) it had an opt-out from the Common Security and Defence Policy, nor did the United Kingdom, which withdrew from the EU in 2020.[14][15] Malta opted-out as well, due to concerns it might conflict with its neutrality.[16][17] As per Article 46 of the TEU, non-participating EU member states can request to join by notifying the Council, which will approve based on a qualified majority of participating member states.


Those Member States whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation within the Union framework. Such cooperation shall be governed by Article 46. It shall not affect the provisions of Article 43.

— Article 42.6 of Treaty on European Union

Those states shall notify their intention to the Council and to the High Representative. The Council then adopts, by qualified majority a decision establishing PESCO and determining the list of participating Member States. Any other member state that fulfills the criteria and wishes to participate can join the PESCO following the same procedure, but in the voting for the decision only the states already part of the PESCO will participate. If a participating state no longer fulfills the criteria a decision suspending its participation is taken by the same procedure as for accepting new participants, but excluding the concerned state from the voting procedure. If a participating state wishes to withdraw from PESCO it just notifies the Council to remove it from the list of participants. All other decisions and recommendations of the Council concerning PESCO issues unrelated to the list of participants require a unanimous vote of the participating states.[3]

The criteria established in the PESCO Protocol are the following:[3]

  • co-operate and harmonise requirements and pool resources in the fields related to defence equipment acquisition, research, funding and utilisation, notably the programmes and initiatives of the European Defence Agency (e.g. Code of Conduct on Defence Procurement)
  • capacity to supply, either at national level or as a component of multinational force groups, targeted combat units for the missions planned, structured at a tactical level as a battle group, with support elements including transport (airlift, sealift) and logistics, within a period of five to 30 days, in particular in response to requests from the United Nations, and which can be sustained for an initial period of 30 days and be extended up to at least 120 days.
  • capable of carrying out in the above timeframes the tasks of joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilisation[3]

Participating armed forces

The following member states have announced their intention of participating in PESCO

As per Article 46 of the TEU, the following non-participating EU member states can request to join by notifying the Council, which will approve based on a qualified majority of participating member states:

As of November 2020, third countries can also participate in PESCO. Canada, Norway, and the United States have applied to participate in the project to improve military mobility in Europe. Norway had been active in past EU military operations.[22][23] The EU governments will soon decide on the applications in a multi-stage admission process.[24]

Neutral states

PESCO includes four of the five EU states that describe themselves as neutral (Austria, Finland, Ireland, and Sweden), and is designed to be as inclusive as possible by allowing states to opt in or out as their unique foreign policies allow. Some members of the Irish Parliament considered Ireland joining PESCO as an abandonment of neutrality. The measure was passed, with the government arguing that its opt-in nature allowed Ireland to "join elements of PESCO that were beneficial such as counter-terrorism, cyber security and peace keeping ... what we are not going to be doing is buying aircraft carriers and fighter jets."[25] While critics of Ireland's participation point to the commitment to increase defence spending, the government has made clear that the 2% commitment is collective, and not for each state individually. The Irish government has made clear that any defence spending increase by Ireland would be minor.[26] Malta, the only neutral state not to participate, argued that it was going to wait and see how PESCO develops, in order to see whether it would compromise Maltese neutrality.[21]

In Switzerland, an opinion poll conducted two months after the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine showed support for the country joining PESCO.[27]


About four-fifths of PESCO members are also member states of NATO. One EU state (Denmark) is a member of NATO but not a member of PESCO.[28] While PESCO was formed in part due to doubts over the United States' commitment to NATO,[3] officials stress that PESCO will be complementary to NATO security rather than in competition with it. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also highlighted how Military Mobility is a key example of NATO and EU co-operation.[29][30]

German defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) described third country participation in PESCO as a “breakthrough”, which also meant an “impulse” for cooperation between the EU and NATO.

Criticism and lobbying by the United States

The United States has voiced concerns and published 'warnings' about PESCO several times, which many analysts believe to be a sign that the United States fears a loss of influence in Europe, as a militarily self-sufficient EU would make NATO increasingly irrelevant.[31][failed verification][32][failed verification] Alongside better military cooperation, PESCO also seeks to enhance the defence industry of member states and create jobs within the EU, which several US politicians have criticised over fears of losing revenue from EU states (on average, the United States sells over €1 billion in weapons to EU countries per year).[33][failed verification][32][failed verification] According to Françoise Grossetête, a member of the European Parliament from 1994 to 2019, the US is lobbying strongly against increased military cooperation between EU member states, going as far as to directly invite MEPs to 'private dinners' to try to convince them to vote against any directives or laws that would seek to strengthen military cooperation within the EU.[34]

Despite opposition to PESCO, the United States expressed its desire to participate in the Military Mobility project in 2021.[35] European analysts[who?] have suggested that this might pose an attempt to undermine an independent European defence policy from within.[36][37]


PESCO has a two-layer structure:

  • Council Level: Responsible for the overall policy direction and decision-making including as regards the assessment mechanism to determine if Member States are fulfilling their commitments. Only PESCO members are voting, decisions are taken by unanimity (except decisions regarding the suspension of membership and entry of new members which are taken by qualified majority).
  • Projects Level: Each project will be managed by those member states that contribute to it, in line with general rules for project management to be developed at overarching level.


The European Defence Agency and External Action Service will act as PESCO's secretariat.[38]


PESCO projects will be incentivised by the European Commission’s newly established European Defence Fund.

List of projects

The first PESCO projects started with a list of 50 ideas and was whittled down to provide a short list of small-scale projects. Major armament projects are intended in the future (EU forces use 178 different weapon systems compared to 30 in the US), but initially PESCO is to be focused on smaller operations to lay groundwork.[7]

PESCO projects as of February, 2021 and participating countries by category:[39][40]

Air - Systems

Project Name Abbr Coordinator Project members Project observer
European MALE RPAS EURODRONE Germany Germany
European attack helicopter TIGER MARK III  France
Counter Unmanned Aerial System C-UAS  Italy
Airborne Electronic Attack AEA  Spain

Cyber - C4ISR

Project name Abbr. Coordinator Project members Project observer
European Secure Software-defined Radio ESSOR  France
Cyber Threats and Incident Response Information Sharing Platform CTIRISP  Greece
Cyber Rapid Response Teams CRRT  Lithuania
The Strategic Command and Control System for CSDP Missions ESC2  Spain
European High Atmosphere Airship Platform - ISR Capability EHAAP  Italy
SOCC for Small Joint Operations with Special Operations Forces Tactical Command and

Control capabilities

Electronic Warfare Capability/Interoperability Programmer for future ISR JISR  Czech Republic
Cyber and Information Domain Coordination Center CIDCC  Germany

Enabling - Joint

Project name Abbr. Coordinator Project members Project observer
European Medical Command EMC  Germany
Network of Logistic Hubs in Europe and support to operations NetLogHubs  Germany
Military Mobility MM  Netherlands
Energy Operation Function EOF  France
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Surveillance as a Service CBRN SaaS  Austria
Co-Basing  France
Geo-Meteorological and Oceanographic Support Coordination Element GEOMETOC


Timely Warning and Interception with Space-based Theater Surveillance TWISTER  France
Materials and Components for Technological EU Competitiveness MAC-EU  France
EU Collaborative Warfare Capabilities ECOWAR  France
European Global RPAS Insertion Architecture System GLORIA  Italy

Land - Formations - Systems

Project name Abbr. Coordinator Project members Project observer
Deployable Military Disaster Relief Capability Package DM-DRCP  Italy
Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle / Amphibious Assault Vehicle / Light Armoured Vehicle AIFV/AAV/LAV  Italy
Indirect Fire Support Capability EUROARTILLERY  Slovakia
Crisis Response Operation Core EUFOR CROC  Germany
Integrated Unmanned Ground System UGS  Estonia
EU Beyond Line of Sight Land Battlefield Missile Systems EU BLOS  France


Project name Abbr. Coordinator Project member Project observer
Maritime Semi-Autonomous Systems for Mine Countermeasures MAS MCM  Belgium
Harbour & Maritime Surveillance and Protection HARMSPRO  Italy
Upgrade of Maritime Surveillance UMS  Greece
Deployable Modular Underwater Intervention Capability Package DIVEPACK  Bulgaria
Maritime Unmanned Anti-Submarine System MUSAS  Portugal
European Patrol Corvette EPC  Italy


Project name Abbr. Coordinator Project members Project observer
EU Radio Navigation Solution EURAS  France
European Military Space Surveillance Awareness Network EU-SSA-N  Italy

Training - Facilities

Project name Abbr. Coordinator Project members Project observer
European Union Training Mission Competence Centre EU TMCC  Germany
European Training Certification Centre for European Armies ETCCEA  Italy
Helicopter Hot and High Training H3 TRAINING  Greece
Joint EU Intelligence School JEIS  Greece
EU Test and Evaluation Centres EUTEC  France


Integrated European Joint Training and Simulation Centre EUROSIM  Hungary
EU Cyber Academia and Innovation Hub EU CAIH  Portugal
Special Operations Forces Medical Training Centre SMTC  Poland
CBRN Defence Training Range CBRNDTR  Romania
EU Network of Diving Centres EUNDC  Romania


Potential future PESCO projects include the following existing intergovernmental cooperations between member states' militaries, presently outside the CSDP framework:[citation needed]

Forces and command centres:

Bodies fostering integration:

See also

  • flagEuropean Union portal
  • War portal

Other initiatives of the Common Security and Defence Policy established after the introduction of the European Union Global Strategy:

Other 'European' defence organisations that are currently not part of the CSDP but could potentially become PESCO projects:


  1. ^ a b c Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) - Factsheet, European External Action Service
  2. ^[bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ a b c d e "Article 42(6), Article 43(1), Article 46, Protocol 10 of the amended Treaty on European Union" (PDF). Council of the European Union. 15 April 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Time for the Sleeping Beauty to wake, ECFR 15/NOV/17
  5. ^ a b Angela Merkel: EU cannot completely rely on US and Britain any more, theguardian 28 May 2017
  6. ^ Can France and Germany Make PESCO Work as a Process Toward EU Defense?, German Marshall Fund 6 October 2017
  7. ^ a b European military cooperation: How to defend Europe?, Euractiv 29 November 2017
  8. ^ "Romania to join EU's defence initiative PESCO".
  9. ^ "EU defence ministers: defence cooperation needs to be brought to a new level". 7 September 2017. Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Czech government to join PESCO defence project - Prague Monitor". Archived from the original on 2017-10-12. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  11. ^ "Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) - Council Decision - preparation for the adoption". Council of the European Union. 2017-12-08. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  12. ^ "COUNCIL DECISION establishing Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and determining the list of Participating Member States" (PDF). Council of the European Union. 2017-12-08. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  13. ^ Defence cooperation: Council establishes Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), with 25 member states participating, Council of the European Union 11 December 2017
  14. ^ "PESCO: EU paves way to defense union". Deutsche Welle. 2017-11-13. Archived from the original on 2017-11-18. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  15. ^ Erlanger, Steven (2017-11-13). "E.U. Moves Closer to a Joint Military Force". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2017-11-13. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  16. ^ "Malta among three countries opting out of EU's new defence agreement". Times of Malta. 2017-12-11. Archived from the original on 2017-12-12. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  17. ^ "Twenty-five EU states sign PESCO defense pact". Deutsche Welle. 2017-12-11. Archived from the original on 2017-12-12. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  18. ^ "V 66 Om et fælles EU-forsvar". Folketing. 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-06-20.
  19. ^ "Denmark votes overwhelmingly to join EU's common defence policy". The Guardian. 1 June 2022.
  20. ^ "Danes vote yes to abolish EU defence opt-out – here are the next steps". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Denmark). 2022-06-02. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  21. ^ a b "Malta to 'wait and see' before deciding on PESCO defence pact, Muscat says".
  22. ^ EU states poised to agree joint defence pact, Financial Times 7 November 2017
  23. ^ Foreign and security policy, Mission of Norway to the EU
  24. ^ Schiltz, Christoph B. (2021-02-28). ""Historische Entwicklung": USA wollen sich aktiv an EU-Verteidigungspolitik beteiligen". DIE WELT. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  25. ^ "Dáil votes to join European defence organisation". RTÉ.ie. 7 December 2017.
  26. ^ "EU defence co-operation is no threat to Irish neutrality". The Irish Times.
  27. ^ Ukraine war sees Swiss challenge their age-old neutrality, BBC News, 7 May 2022
  28. ^ Member countries, NATO 12 June 2017
  29. ^ EU to sign joint defence pact in show of post-Brexit unity, Euractiv 9 November 2017
  30. ^ NATO Secretary General welcomes PESCO, stresses need for complementarity, NATO 14 November 2017
  31. ^ Zyla, Benjamin (2020). The End of European Security Institutions? The EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy and NATO After Brexit. Berlin, Germany: Springer Nature. pp. 98ff. ISBN 9783030421601.
  32. ^ a b Naumescu, Valentin (2019). The New European Union and Its Global Strategy: From Brexit to PESCO. Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 14ff. ISBN 978-1-5275-4182-5. OCLC 1132792079.
  33. ^ "Importer/Exporter TIV Tables". Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 2020. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  34. ^ "Braucht Europa eine Armee?". YouTube. arte. 2020-05-05. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  35. ^ "U.S. ready to help EU speed up troop movement to meet Russia challenge". Berlin/Washington: Reuters. 2 March 2021. Archived from the original on 5 March 2021. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  36. ^ Rieker, Pernille (2021). "Differentiated Defence Integration Under French Leadership". European Foreign Affairs Review. 26: 111–126. doi:10.54648/EERR2021029. S2CID 248273479.
  37. ^ Kempin, Ronja; Stiftung Wissenschaft Und Politik (2021). "Frankreichs Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik unter Präsident Macron: Konsequenzen für die deutsch-französische Zusammenarbeit". SWP-Studie (in German). doi:10.18449/2021S04. Frankreich fürchtete insbesondere, dass die USA über eine Beteiligung an PESCO- und EVF-Vorhaben die Entwicklung der GSVP beeinflussen würden.
  38. ^ "Permanent Structured Cooperation: An Institutional Pathway for European Defence « CSS Blog Network".
  39. ^ "Council-Decision-PESCO-projects-list" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  40. ^ "pesco-projects" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links

  • Official website
  • Joint notification by member states to the High Representative and to the Council on PESCO, 13 November 2017
  • Permanent Structured Cooperation: what’s in a name?, European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Description by the European Commission
  • Factsheet
  • Description by the European External Action Service
  • ETH Zurich description
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