Permanent Structured Cooperation
TypeFramework for structural integration within the Common Security and Defence Policy, based on Article 42.6 of the Treaty on European Union
25 member states' armed forces

The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is the structural integration pursued by 25 of the 28 national armed forces of the European Union (EU), based on Article 42.6 and Protocol 10 of the Treaty on European Union and incorporated in the Union's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). PESCO was enabled by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 and initiated in 2017,[1] with the initial integration being a number of projects planned to launch 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 crisis. 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 J. Trump was elected as President of the United States on a platform of criticising NATO allies, 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 an 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 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.[12] Denmark did not participate as it has an opt-out from the Common Security and Defence Policy, nor did the United Kingdom, which is scheduled to withdraw from the EU in 2019.[13][14] Malta opted-out as well.[15][16]


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 PSCD following the same procedure, but in the voting for the decision will participate only the states already part of the PSCD. 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 PSCD it just notifies the Council to remove it from the list of participants. All other decisions and recommendations of the Council concerning PSCD issues unrelated to the list of participants are taken by unanimity of the participating states.[3]

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

Participating armed forces

Lead Nation on at least one project
  10 or more projects
  6 to 9 projects
  3 to 5
  1 or 2 projects

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

The only non-participant EU member states are;

While the UK is withdrawing, PESCO is being developed to allow participation of third-states in the future.[12] Norway is another country which this could apply to, as it is been active in past EU military operations.[18][19]

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. It 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."[20] 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.[21] 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.[17]


  States only in PESCO
  States in both PESCO and NATO
  States only in NATO

About four-fifths of PESCO members are also member states of NATO, and two EU states (Denmark and the UK) that are members of NATO are not members of PESCO.[22] While PESCO was formed in part due to doubts over US commitment to NATO,[3] officials stress that PESCO will be complementary to NATO security rather than in competition with it. NATO is still viewed as the main guarantor of Europe's defence, while PESCO focuses on crisis deployments. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also highlighted how Military Mobility is a key example of NATO and EU co-operation.[23][24]


PESCO has a two-layer structure:


The European Defence Agency and External Action Service will act as PESCO's secretariat.[25]


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



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]

List of first collaborative PESCO projects as of 2017 listed with country participation:[26][27]

Project name Abbr.
Czech ReP
European Medical Command EMC N N O N N O N N O L N N N P N O O P N N P P N P P
European Secure Software-defined Radio ESSOR N P N N N N O P L P N N N P N N N P P N N N N O N
Network of logistic Hubs in Europe and support to Operations N P P P P N N N O L P P N P N N N P N P N P P P N
Military Mobility P P P P P P P P O L P P P P P P P L P P P P P P P
European Union Training Mission Competence Centre EU TMCC P P N P N O N N L L N N P L N N P P N P P N O L P
European Training Certification Centre for European Armies ? N N N N N N N N N N P N N L N N N N N P N N N O N
Energy Operational Function EOF N P N O N N N N L O N N O P N N N O N O N N N P N
Deployable Military Disaster Relief Capability Package ? P N O N P N P N N P N N P L N N N N N P N N N N N
Maritime (Semi-) Autonomous Systems for Mine Countermeasures MAS MCM N L N N N N O N O N P N P P N N N P N P P N N O N
Harbour & Maritime Surveillance and Protection HARMSPRO N O N N N N N N N N P N P L N N N O N P N N N N N
Upgrade of Maritime Surveillance ? N N P P P N N N N N L N P P N N N N N O N N N P N
Cyber Threats and Incident Response Information Sharing Platform ? P O N P N N O O N O L P P P N O N N N P N N O P N
Cyber Rapid Response Teams and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security ? N O N N P N O P N O O N N N N L N P N N N N O P N
Strategic Command and Control (C2) System for CSDP Missions and Operations ? N N N N N N N N N P N N N P N N O N N P N N N L N
Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle / Amphibious Assault Vehicle / Light Armoured Vehicle ? N N N N N O N N N N P O N L N N N N N O N O N O N
Indirect Fire Support EuroArtillery N N O N N O N N N N N O N P N N N N N O N L O O N
EUFOR Crisis Response Operation Core EUFOR CROC N O N P N O N N L L N N N L N N N N N O N N O L N
L Lead Participant
P Participant
O Observer
N Non-Participant


Further information: Military of the European Union § Intergovernmental cooperation

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


  1. ^ a b c Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) - Factsheet, European External Action Service
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e Article 42(6), Article 43(1), Article 46, Protocol 10 of the amended Treaty on European Union
  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. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) - Council Decision - preparation for the adoption". Council of the European Union. 2017-12-08. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  12. ^ a b Defence cooperation: Council establishes Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), with 25 member states participating, Council of the European Union 11 December 2017
  13. ^ "PESCO: EU paves way to defense union". Deutsche Welle. 2017-11-13. Archived from the original on 2017-11-18. Retrieved 2017-11-16. ((cite news)): Unknown parameter |dead-url= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  14. ^ 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. ((cite news)): Unknown parameter |dead-url= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  15. ^ "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. ((cite news)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ EU states poised to agree joint defence pact, Financial Times 7 November 2017
  19. ^ Foreign and security policy, Mission of Norway to the EU
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Member countries, NATO 12 June 2017
  23. ^ EU to sign joint defence pact in show of post-Brexit unity, Euractiv 9 November 2017
  24. ^ NATO Secretary General welcomes PESCO, stresses need for complementarity, NATO 14 November 2017
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Wiegold, Thomas (2017-12-11). "Vollzugsmeldung: PESCO, mehr Zusammenarbeit in der Verteidigung, in Kraft (Update) : Augen geradeaus". (in German). Retrieved 2017-12-18. ((cite web)): Check |archive-url= value (help)