In late December, all but three European Union nations agreed to activate the continent’s latest, and perhaps most promising, effort to coordinate their defense investments. This initiative, dubbed PESCO for Permanent Structured Cooperation, has largely been met with bewilderment and concern on this side of the Atlantic. But U.S. officials should welcome it — and press the EU’s leading nations to use its framework to move from project-based collaboration to properly resourced militaries with credible capability.
Thus far, deeper EU defense cooperation has remained more of a dream on paper than reality. These efforts began in earnest at the 1998 St. Malo Summit where French President Jacque Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair signed a declaration recognizingthe EU’s need to “have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so.” The announcement caused alarm in the Clinton administration. During NATO’s 50th anniversary summit, then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright proclaimed that there should be no delinking European defense from NATO, no duplication of existing efforts, and no discrimination against non-EU members.
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