Volume 55 (2018)

Volume 55 (2018) / Issue 6

Steven Blockmans, 'The EU’s modular approach to defence integration: An inclusive, ambitious and legally binding PESCO?' (2018) 55 Common Market Law Review, Issue 6, pp. 1785–1826


In response to the need expressed by European leaders to protect their citizens better against security threats emanating from within and outside the EU’s borders, a package of defensive measures has been developed with remarkable speed. Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the area of defence is the most emblematic innovation in this regard. This unique form of enhanced cooperation was triggered under Article 46 TEU. Yet the political rhetoric surrounding its launch has raised expectations that the EU may not be able to meet. This is mainly due to misperceptions about the legal nature and enforceability of the so-called “binding” commitments agreed to. PESCO will need to overcome at least three key challenges: raising the level of ambition while ensuring inclusivity; maintaining credibility in case participating States do not comply with their commitments; and ensuring coherence with the many other building blocks in Europe’s defence architecture. Arguably, legal commitments are the hardest in the area of industrial integration.With moves to incentivize capability development and create a single market for defence, the Community method will be applied to a field hitherto jealously shielded off by the Member States. This dimension of the incipient European Defence Union represents a game-changer in the integration process.

“If you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm”, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, 16 May 2018.

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ISSN: 0165-0750
ID: COLA2018145