The EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation, NATO, and the US: beyond a zero-sum game

Year of Publication
Lorenzo Giuglietti
Organization Name
College of Europe
The European Union’s Permanent and Structured Cooperation (PESCO) understandably captures the attention of policymakers and experts due to the engagements member states committed to and the consequences for the EU’s defence architecture in terms of defence capabilities and defence industry.
One of the most important challenges that PESCO poses concerns the EU’s relationship with NATO and the US. Concretely, PESCO is feared to “produce duplication, non-interoperable military systems, diversion of scarce defence resources and unnecessary competition between NATO and the EU” (Chazan & Peel, 2019). In contrast to these concerns, this brief argues that PESCO may actually do the opposite: it can potentially enable further transatlantic cooperation, strengthen the EU defence industry, and foster better relations with NATO. To realize these synergetic effects, however, the EU must spell out its priorities in the wake of current global challenges and pledges for a reformed and strategic approach. This entails clarifying the role of PESCO to attain those goals, promoting cooperation with the Alliance, welcoming third-party participation in PESCO, and striving for a fairer transatlantic defence market.
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