On 13 November 2017, 23 EU Member States submitted a Joint Notification to the EU Council of Ministers setting out their intention to utilise the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) mechanism to further European defence (CSDP). Ireland and Portugal notified the Council of Ministers of their intention to join in early December and a Decision formally launching PESCO was adopted on 11 December 2017. The first 17 capability projects were formally launched in March 2018. The UK did not sign the Joint Notification and will, therefore, remain outside of PESCO. In doing so, the UK will have no decision making rights over its governance or veto over its future strategic direction.Jump to full report >>
At a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council (including Defence) on 13 November 2017, Ministers from 23 EU Member States signed a Joint Notification on Permanent Structured Cooperation. The first formal step in establishing PESCO, that notification set out the principles of PESCO, the list of commitments that participating Member States have agreed to undertake and proposals on PESCO governance and the overall ambition for the project.
A Decision formally establishing PESCO was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 11 December 2017. Participating states also adopted a Declaration outlining the initial capability projects to be pursued under the remit of PESCO. Formal approval of those 17 projects was given in March 2018.
Work is now underway by the participating nations of each individual PESCO project to define objectives and timelines for each project.
In May 2018 a call for new project proposals is expected to be issued by the PESCO Secretariat, followed by a 6-month period of assessment. The next set of PESCO projects is then expected to be formally adopted in November 2018.
The conditions under which third party states could also be invited to participate in individual projects is also expected to be formalised by the Council of Ministers in December 2018.
The UK Government did not sign the Join Notification on 13 November 2017. As such it will remain outside of PESCO. In doing so the UK will have no decision making rights over PESCO governance or any veto over the future strategic direction of PESCO, which has been openly acknowledged as greater EU integration in the field of defence.
The Government has indicated its preference for third party participation in mutually beneficial projects, although it will be for the participating EU Member States to determine the scope of such participation.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-8149
Author: Claire Mills