„A major step for European independence“
In future, 23 EU member states wish to interact closely in the area of security and defence policy. At the Foreign Affairs Council they handed over the official joint notification of the Permanent Structured Cooperation to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The common security and defence policy has been a central issue since the European integration project began. Today’s statement is a sign of decisive progress for the common European policy. Speaking in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Gabriel stressed, “The Permanent Structured Cooperation is a major step for European independence and towards strengthening the European security and defence policy.”
European rather than national security
In view of the ongoing crises and conflicts in Europe’s vicinity, cooperation between the member states is becoming increasingly important. “After all, it is no longer national, but European security that is at stake,” Gabriel declared in the run‑up to the Foreign Affairs Council.
In addition, the cooperation should make defence expenditure more efficient. The total amount the EU spends on security and defence is similar to that spent by the United States, but it is only 15 per cent as efficient. The aim here is to pool member states’ capabilities effectively. Gabriel summed up: “A European Union that pools its resources wisely and is able to use the combined power of 27 member states is in a better position to protect its people.”
Expanding cooperation also in the civilian sphere
Gabriel said that following progress on the common military security and defence policy, it was now important also to expand cooperation in the civilian sphere. For “we can only achieve true stability and security if at the same time we also strengthen civilian crisis management, so that the EU can respond to crises in its neighbourhood more quickly and effectively with civilian means.”
The door is open for other member states
Following today’s notification, the Foreign Affairs Council will officially launch the Permanent Structured Cooperation at its next meeting, in December. Specific projects are then to be announced and implemented. For example, a European logistics centre to support crisis operations and a European officer training course are under discussion.
All European Union member states support the establishment of the Permanent Structured Cooperation, with 23 states so far having expressed their desire to participate. The door is open for other member states to join at any time.