“We need to clearly acknowledge that we need stronger cooperation in security and defence in Europe“, said Radosław Sikorski MEP, taking stock of the first three years of the defence cooperation between the EU Member States, PESCO, the Permanent Structured Cooperation framework.
Streamlining defence cooperation is even more important today as national defence budgets will suffer reductions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will weaken the Member States’ preparedness even more for dealing with similar crises in the future.
“Funding for military mobility across the EU, considered as crucial, faces cuts from €5.8 billion to 1.5 billion in the proposed EU budget. This goes against the needs. We cannot afford to ignore the need for stronger defence capabilities in Europe. Not only stronger, but also smarter cooperation in defence is urgently needed when we look at the threats just outside our borders. And we have to be clear: no single Member State can face these challenges alone.”
PESCO was established in 2017 and provides for EU defence cooperation between Member States willing to do so. Currently, 47 concrete projects are on the table in areas such as military mobility or European Medical Command.
“PESCO is an EU system for burden sharing which is not only advantageous for the EU’s overall level of security and defence, but also reduces costs. Therefore it is absolutely crucial that the joint projects maximise the effectiveness of spending and don’t overlap”, Sikorski said.
“In order to be efficient, cooperation in terms of defence should concentrate on projects having the highest potential to deliver European strategic autonomy, meaning to make Europe able to act by itself in terms of its own defence. The current list of 47 projects should be reviewed and the projects either regrouped in clusters or cancelled in cases where participating states are making insufficient progress or present insufficient mutually beneficial gain to the European Union.”
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The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 187 Members from all EU Member States