Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

Proposals for a Revival of Permanent Structured Cooperation

Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

Proposals for a Revival of Permanent Structured Cooperation

Article excerpt

Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is no doubt the most significant innovation introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon in the field of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). With the decision to allow the activation of PESCO, one could say that the authors of the Treaty of Lisbon (or to be precise, of the Constitutional Treaty that served as inspiration for the Lisbon agreement) have decided that the long journey that gradually ferried the old 1954 WEU Treaty into the European Union (EU) has reached terminus. In theory, the aim should therefore be to make one last step towards "common defence," as stated by all the European Union treaties since Amsterdam and reiterated by Art. 42.2 of the Treaty of Lisbon.1

In effect, although in a much more meandering and equivocal way than the WEU Treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon attempts to complete the design of the EU as a global security provider by adding credible military instruments to the already well-developed civilian economic and foreign policy capabilities. But in line with the philosophy of the WEU Treaty, the intention is also to address the issue of common defence. Art. 42.2 states that "common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy[.] This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council acting unanimously, so decides." This aspiration is strengthened by Subsection 7 of the same article, as it refers to the case of "armed aggression" against a member country in which the other member states are called upon to respond with "an obligation of aid and assistance..." This wording refers back to the spirit of Art. 5 of the WEU Treaty and the similar prescription of the NATO alliance. In the same context, one can include Art. 222 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which is a solidarity clause between the member countries in the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or man-made catastrophe.2 With the Lisbon Treaty, therefore, new rules and procedures could have paved the way towards a more credible and effective defence policy, at least in theory. In reality no real steps ahead have been done. This article tries both to investigate the obstacles that are blocking efforts towards PESCO and to advance some proposals on how to regain dynamism in the common defence field, at the eve of an important European Council convened to discuss these questions, at the beginning of December 2013.

PESCO as the First Step towards Common Defence

To reach the ultimate goal of common defence, the authors of the Treaty of Lisbon aimed for steady progress in the desired direction. Based on functionalist theories, it is the traditional logic of a process that will take successive phases and will tend to create the conditions for gradual steps forward towards common defence. It is in this context that PESCO can be seen as a sort of "enhanced cooperation" in the field of defence, based on the same model that has been abundantly experimented in the monetary field with the euro or in the free circulation of citizens with the Schengen Treaty. Article 42.6, in fact all of Article 46, and Protocol No. 10 on the criteria for participation set the framework for PESCO.3

PESCO, it must be said, stands out for its great flexibility. Among the several forms of strengthened cooperation foreseen by the successive EU treaties, the peculiar form covered by Art. 46 has very few formal constraints:

- Contrary to other mechanisms of enhanced cooperation, there is no requirement for a minimal number of countries to belong to it in order to be initiated; Art. 42.6, states that PESCO can be established among "those member states whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria...," a concept which is reiterated in the first point of Art. 46, which further specifies that member states who "wish to participate" may agree to cooperate. In theory, as few as only two states could agree to start PESCO. This dream might even happen should we ever see the return to the glory days of the Saint Malo Initiative of 1998 between Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac. …

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