Since the EU’s failure to respond to the ex-Yugoslavia crises, the lack of adequate European military capabilities revealed the substantial inability to implement an effective foreign policy at the EU level. This situation persuaded the European institutions to resume the development of a common EU defence policy.
This realisation led in 1999 to the setting up of the first blocs of the common European defence. Although modest in scope, in the following years the newly created military instruments have been the testing ground of the EU cooperation in the defence area. Several military and civilian missions have been carried in worldwide theatres.
After the European Council of December 2013 the EU Heads of Government agreed on new measures for extending cooperation in the defence area. Nevertheless no significant developments emerged since then. The European Council held in June 2015 simply recalled the previous general aims and a vague intention to keep security and defence policy on the agenda.
After the referendum on Brexit, with the persistent risks posed by the international terrorism, and following Donald Trump’s rise to power, which opens a new cycle in the United States domestic and foreign policy, the EU is faced with a new scenario, where the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) moves back to the top of the European agenda and interests.
The EU Global Strategy, presented by the High Representative Federica Mogherini in June 2016 has further championed this process, notably reviving the debate on the launch of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). in his 2016 State of the Union address the Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the creation of a European Defence Fund, then launched in June 2017.
The European Council meetings of March and of June 2017 have once again tabled the issues of security, defence and migration among the most urgent ones. They have manifested the governments’ increasing will to move towards greater European cooperation in these matters, finally with a potentially historical agreement “on the need to launch an inclusive and ambitious PESCO”.
In 2015 the Centre for Studies on Federalism has created this ad hoc website to provide information about the current EU decision-making on defence matters and present relevant material for future institutional, strategic and economic aspects. The website intends to be of interest for different and wide audiences. The Centre will welcome any input or suggestion to improve this project.
Turin, June 2017