EU's top military official warns of faltering means for capability development

by Brooks Tigner

National capitals’ weak support for their Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence (PESCO) projects, combined with deep provisional cuts to the European Defence Fund (EDF) and related spending programmes, will undermine the EU’s defence capability objectives, says General Claudio Graziano, chairman of the EU Military Committee (EUMC).

EUMC chairman Gen Graziano has warned that weak support for PESCO and deep cuts in the EDF will undermine EU defence capability objectives. (Getty Images)

EUMC chairman Gen Graziano has warned that weak support for PESCO and deep cuts in the EDF will undermine EU defence capability objectives. (Getty Images)

Addressing an 8 September meeting of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE), Gen Graziano said, “PESCO at the moment is not in the best position to deliver its expected results. Confidence and trust between the member states are not there to launch major projects, meaning PESCO could lose its attractiveness. They need to firm up their political commitment and better align national planning and budgets to it.”

Launched by 25 EU countries in December 2017, PESCO now manages 47 capability projects, most small in scope and focused on training or support. Some involve prototyping or feasibility studies for battlefield systems but these have yet to fully get up and running. A strategic review of PESCO in November will assess progress on the projects, with the 25 countries set to agree by the end of 2020 their PESCO priorities for 2021–25.

However, member states’ wavering commitment to PESCO coincides with their pandemic-driven determination within the EU Council to slash the EU’s proposed 2021–27 EDF from EUR13 billion (USD14.3 billion) to EUR7 billion and spending on military mobility from EUR6.5 billion to EUR1.5 billion.

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National capitals’ weak support for their Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence (PESCO) projec...

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