Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Europe Wants American Support for a Common Security Policy - National Interest

Gabriela Marin ThorntonTobias Oder
March 6, 2018

The Treaty of Lisbon, which came into effect in 2009, introduced the “Permanent Structured Cooperation,” also known as PESCO, as a “specific CSDP flexibility mechanism,” for EU member states to increase their defense cooperation and mutual-security commitments. Article 42(6) of the Treaty on the European Union now states that “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.” The permanent structured cooperation clause allows for differentiated integration on military and defense matters among EU member states. In other words, it allows for a cluster of EU states to create a common-defense policy.

Until 2017, the PESCO was never invoked. However, significant geopolitical shakeups—such as the Russian provocations in Eastern Europe, the Trump administration’s ambiguous position toward NATO, and Brexit, to name just a few—have given new impetus to the idea of a Common Security and Defense Policy. In the wake of these developments, the European Union’s foreign ministers agreed on September 7, 2017, to move ahead with PESCO and to officially launch it by the end of 2017. On December 11, 2017, the Council of the European Union officially established PESCO with the participation of twenty-five member states.

On February 17, 2018, at the Munich Security Conference, one of the highest profile international security conferences, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, voiced his support for PESCO. He called for more European presence on the world stage, arguing for a greater role of the EU in international affairs. Juncker stated that: “[s]oft power is not powerful enough. We need more strength in foreign, security and defence matters.” German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel also endorsed the idea of increasing European defense cooperation to counter Russian and Chinese assertiveness. He called for a “European moment” in the face of what he sees as Donald Trump turning his back on transatlantic-security cooperation. 

European efforts to integrate military started in October 1950 with the proposal of creating a European Defense Community. After the Cold War, the most significant development on matters of European security was the Saint-Malo initiative (1998) which stated that “the union [the European Union] must have the capacity for autonomous action backed up by credible military forces.” However, America, which has called upon its European allies to do more burden-sharing, almost since the inception of NATO, was not exactly happy with the Saint-Malo initiative. - Read More

Europe Wants American Support for a Common Security Policy


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