Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

EU Defence and Military: An Analysis of PESCO and Other EU Security Initiatives


In November 2017 25 leaders signed up to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). For the last few years the EU has been building up to a fully operative EU military and realigning member states funding of core projects to permit that to happen through the European Defence Fund (EDF). This is not a new concept. It is not a whimsical idea. The groundwork for the EU military began back in 2013. Initially it was just legislation and slowly it was built upon until now we have further integration of sovereignty stapled to security and defence. You may have wondered why I started with the quote from former President Reagan. I believe it is the most accurate description of the central processes of the EU mechanism that has brought about PESCO and the EU military.

The EU ideal of a military to defend itself is surely reasonable?

If that premise is the one that an argument starts with, perhaps the questioner should consider the role of NATO in keeping Europe safe for decades.

The EU military will make it cheaper to fund defence and security?

If that argument is the basis for defending the policy and rhetoric of an EU defence pact that provides a military arm, then it is flawed. There are no budget restrictions in any of the literature concerning what amount states will pay to the EDF or what amounts will be permitted by stakeholders to be spent. There is also no explanation of what share member states will pay towards the upkeep of the same. Perhaps countries like Greece and Italy would prefer to pay off their national debt than be aligned with military expansion within the EU.

An integrated defence force within the EU (PESCO) will increase safety for all members?

This is a tenuous point at best. Countries like Sweden have managed to maintain their distance from colossal historic events like World War 2 and the Cold War by remaining neutral. By becoming a party to hybrid warfare and thus increasing supporting activities in defence, it is difficult to see how moving from a diplomatic to a military concept can honestly benefit such members. They will be told by Brussels what to spend on defence. They will not be able to regulate that amount. The EU has also not forecast the impact such projects will have on member states economies.

PESCO will maximise protection for the EU?

The claim in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) Factsheet published in November 2017 relies on security being equal across the EU. As has been seen from attacks in Belgium, France and Germany this particular aim is unfulfilled and will not provide stakeholders with security management while internal free movement contradicts this objective.

PESCO has only 2 layers?

Although the writer of another PESCO document, Maja Kocijancic, goes to great length to assert this, she also quotes an unnamed source '"The possibilities of the PESCO are immense.'" So it is difficult to understand how the official layer of PESCO in the EU Council and the project level will develop and what commitments will result from an evolving PESCO. Again, the writer does not allude to this.

What is CARD?

Card is closely connected with PESCO and the EDF. It is the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence. Maja Kocijancic asserts that these are all interconnected with the same political aim. A military under the control of a body with political aims it may be argued would be open to abuse. An examination of many Latin American dictators and their political agendas confirms this to be the case.

Is there an expenditure conflict between PESCO and NATO?

If member states must contribute to both NATO and PESCO then the 2 will inevitably come into conflict at some point as budget constraints become more applicable to governments who are members of both.


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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames