EU defence cooperation: Council launches the 4th wave of new PESCO projects

The Council adopted a decision today updating the list of projects to be undertaken under the EU permanent structured cooperation (PESCO). As a result, 14 new projects will be added to the list of the 46 existing ones that have been developed under PESCO since December 2017.

The new projects are another step towards investing and developing together on defence, in particular in the air and space domains. For instance, the Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo (SATOC) fills a critical shortfall by developing a European solution for the transport of outsized and heavy cargo using a gradual approach. The Medium size Semi-Autonomous Surface Vehicle (M-SASV) will develop a vehicle with multiple mission modules and provide increased operational flexibility and crew protection that can be used for littoral operations as well as naval task groups. The Next Generation Small RPAS (NGSR) will develop the next generation of tactical drones to be used by military units in the maritime and air domains as well as for dual use (civilian-defence) namely by law enforcement organizations or disaster/emergency agencies. The Defence of Space Assets (DoSA) will increase the EU’s operational efficiency in the space domain by making the best use of current and future space assets through cross-cutting space functions of access, passive defence and operational efficiency through training.

The list of new projects also includes: Essential Elements of European Escort (4E) for the maritime area, Future Medium-size Tactical Cargo (FMTC), Next Generation Small RPAS (NGSR), Rotorcraft Docking Station for Drones, Small Scalable Weapons (SSW), and Air Power for the air systems. The EU Military Partnership (EU MilPart) is included in the land systems area, while the Common Hub for Governmental Imagery (CoHGI) is part of the space area. Lastly, Automated Modelling, Identification and Damage Assessment of Urban Terrain (AMIDA-UT) and Cyber Ranges Federations (CRF) are included in cyber defence and C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers) systems.

The Council has also adopted two Recommendations setting out more precise objectives for the second initial phase of PESCO 2021-2025 and on the progress made by the project members towards fulfilling their commitments.

Background and next steps

The Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, is one of the building blocks of the EU’s Defence policy. It was set up in 2017 to enable EU member states to work more closely together in the area of security and defence. This permanent framework for defence cooperation allows willing and able member states to jointly develop defence capabilities, invest in shared projects, and enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

To date, 25 EU Member States have undertaken the more binding commitments that form the basis of PESCO. With today’s decision, the number of collaborative projects has risen to 60 and covers various areas such as: training facilities, land formation systems, maritime and air systems, cyber, and enabling joint multiple services and space.

An initial list of 17 projects to be developed under PESCO was adopted by the Council on 6 March 2018. A second batch of 17 projects to be developed under PESCO was adopted by the Council on 19 November 2018. And finally, a third batch of 13 additional projects to be developed under PESCO was adopted by the Council on 12 November 2019. One PESCO project from the first batch has been officially closed by its project members.

There has been progress on projects that have been adopted and are ongoing. The Cyber Rapid Response Teams and the European Medical Command are now operational. Efforts should now focus on delivering tangible results on as many projects as possible – more than one third by 2025.

The 25 member states participating in PESCO are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

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