On Monday, ministers from 23 EU member states signed a joint notification on the creation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) which is aimed at strengthening the EU’s defence dimension.

At the Brussels meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, Minister of Defence Dr. István Simicskó signed the document on behalf of Hungary. He told Hungarian news agency MTI that he hopes that PESCO will help the people of Europe and Hungary to live a more secure life.

DownloadPhoto: Ministry of Defence

He pointed out that the government of Hungary emphatically adopted the standpoint that “Europeans need common defence, and they need the creation of capabilities which enable them to take more effective action against illegal migration and terrorism as well.”

Mr. Simicskó was of the opinion that PESCO “can open very significant perspectives” if it is filled with meaningful content. He also stated, however, that NATO continues to be the guarantor of collective military security for Hungary, and there is no duplication between this initiative and other existing ones.

He told MTI that he had separately met with his Czech, Polish and Slovak counterparts, and they discussed the strengthening of defence industry cooperation among the Visegrád Four (V4) countries.  He also stated that the revival of Hungarian defence industry is among the government’s important objectives.

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stated that the signing of the notification “is the beginning of a new story”, as “this is quite a historic day” for European defence cooperation.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel gave a similar statement. He called the signing of the notification “a veritable milestone”, and was of the opinion that this is “an important step toward strengthening the European security and defence policy”.

The official endorsement is expected to be given in December for the Franco-German initiative on joint development projects, procurements and missions and the strengthening of European defence industry. According to experts, the signing of the present notification is just the pressing of a “start button”, which signals the presence of political will.

After PESCO has been launched, the participating member states have to agree on a first list of projects to be implemented. These may cover areas such as, for example, training, capability development and operational readiness in the field of defence.

The notification was not signed by five member states, namely Denmark, Ireland, Malta, Portugal and the United Kingdom, which is intending to leave the EU. There is, however, also the possibility to join PESCO at a later point, and it is open to non-EU member states as well, so many consider it desirable if the United Kingdom also participated in the cooperation at a later stage.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)