The European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the Area of Security and Defence Policy – A Threat or Asset to Estonia’s Security Policy?)


  • Philipp Ainso



PESCO, Estonian security policy, CSDP, NATO, US-EU relations, battle groups, military capabilities, capability development, military command, defence industry, interests of Member States


This article focuses on the main internal and external factors that have shaped the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union and sets those factors in the context of the transatlantic security architecture and EU-US relations. The European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is analysed as the current primary embodiment of the CSDP which has the potential to signifi cantly change the nature of transatlantic relations. Although it is too early to predict if those changes will be positive or negative, it is nevertheless feasible to model the most likely alternative trajectories of PESCO’s possible future development and their probable impact. Drawing on the historical accounts of the CSDP, the article begins with outlining the central components of the PESCO (i.e., the battlegroups, military command, capability development, military capabilities, defence industry and the interests of the member states) that help explain the potential of the EU’s renewed Global Strategy to achieve its goals and ambitions. In the most comprehensive sense, the question is whether we will see the continuance of the prevailing type of intergovernmental cooperation (i.e., drawing on the national defence policies of sovereign member states), or whether the EU will decide to opt for the supranationalist route (i.e. by pooling the sovereign defence policies of its individual member states). Thus, in the most general terms, the potential of the components could be characterized by either supranational or intergovernmental traits, which should reveal their overall impact in the PESCO development scenarios generated in the course of this research. The article outlines fi ve possible future trajectories for PESCO based on the inner potential of the components mentioned above and on the possible future scenarios developed for the CSDP by Andersson et al. (2016)2. These five scenarios provide a meaningful context for understanding the possible (re)positioning of the EU in the transatlantic security architecture, enabling the detection of potential risks and opportunities. The latter will, in turn, enable gaining a better understanding of PESCO’s implications for Estonia’s security policy. Finally, the article outlines the main risks associated with the PESCO as the potential for wasting NATO resources, the security policy risks inherent in restricting products originating from the US defence industry, the prevalence of inefficient niche capabilities and the type of rhetoric that can cause the deterioration of the allied relationship. The author considers PESCO’s main opportunities to be increased standardization among NATO partners, expanded cooperation with third countries, development of civil support services and facilities for the purposes of military defence, the complementing of NATO’s functions as well as the strengthening and diversifying of Estonia’s partnerships within the Alliance.



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