The challenges ahead for EU defense co-operation

Opinion piece (The GMF)
Sophia Besch
22 January 2020

As the European Union enters a new institutional era in 2020, its ability to sustain the recent defense momentum will be scrutinized. In the short term, the priority will be to manage successfully the implementation of existing initiatives. The review of the Permanent Structured Co-operation as well as the vote of the budget for the European Defence Fund will be tests for the credibility of these projects.

European countries will also have to look beyond capability development and address the operational pillars of defense co-operation. The work on Article 42.7 of the Lisbon Treaty and the development of the European Peace Facility are meant to provide some answers, but these remain limited initiatives compared to the expectations.

Finally, the EU currently faces a crisis of leadership, with the French-German relationship unable to drive an ambitious agenda in foreign and defense policy. The divisions among European countries on the future of the transatlantic partnership, the relationship with Russia, and the nature of the threats need to be overcome in order for the EU to continue - its efforts in defense co-operation.