What is your assessment of the implementation of PESCO so far? Is it sufficiently operations-minded?
The stated aim of PESCO is “to jointly develop defence capabilities and make them available for EU military operations” in order to enhance the EU’s capacity as an international security partner. PESCO has the potential to achieve this, and its implementation process is definitely heading in that direction. But PESCO collaborative projects will not only address current operational shortfalls in CSDP operations and missions; they should also enable the Union to achieve strategic autonomy in the field of security and defence.
At the same time, it is important to underline that, no matter how efficient it will prove to be, PESCO by itself does not provide a comprehensive response to the problem at hand. Therefore, any discussion on PESCO would be incomplete if it didn’t take into account the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the European Defence Fund (EDF), which are all interconnected.
How can PESCO projects be guaranteed to lead to capabilities and assets that meet the requirements of current and future CSDP missions?
When it comes to capabilities and requirements, the end-user’s point of view is crucial. And the end-user of defence capabilities is the military. Therefore, I am convinced that the military, together with industry, should play a central role in order to maximise the effects of PESCO projects and ensure they lead to capabilities and assets which effectively meet Member States Armed Forces’ requirements.
The military are those who, better than any other, know which capabilities and assets are critical, and which are just a ‘nice to have’.
The military are also the ones able to assess capabilities against possible scenarios and identify and prioritise gaps. It’s then up to industry to provide options and solutions to address those shortfalls.
Based on key parameters like usability, deployability and sustainability, it should be the military’s task to evaluate to what extent a project satisfies the afore- mentioned requirements.
Looking at the first batch of PESCO projects: where do you see the biggest potential for fast, significant and durable improvements of CSDP missions and operations?
As said, PESCO has the potential to change the way we, Europeans, handle our defence and, for this same reason, it may lead to further political integration in Europe.
However, to reach this ambitious goal, PESCO needs to deliver tangible results.
Quick successes and results, even under smaller projects, will demonstrate PESCO’s added value and benefits for participating Member States. This, in turn, will encourage a higher level of cooperation on more ambitious projects, making PESCO a self-sustained process.
Until this happens, however, our full attention and commitment are needed to identify and remedy teething problems that will most certainly appear.