29 May 2018



Many European politicians and officials have marked Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) as a breakthrough in European defence cooperation. Many think tank experts and other observers have been somewhat more sceptical. The US administration seems quite convinced that it will have an impact, to the extent even that it has expressed concern about the cohesion of NATO. Therefore, expectations about PESCO are high. Originally designed to form a core group on defence, PESCO seeks to replace voluntary with binding commitments, in order to ensure that member states stick to them. Naturally, the purpose of it all is to make Europeans more capable of safeguarding their own security. The extent to which PESCO can really make a difference depends on how it will now be implemented.


The Clingendael and Egmont Institutes co-organise this international expert seminar in order to address both the strategic and the capability dimension of PESCO:


  • Panel 1 will address the purpose of PESCO’: What is the level of ambition that the participating Member States seek to achieve? Will this allow them to achieve strategic autonomy, an objective introduced by the EU Global Strategy? And how does this relate to NATO commitments and the transatlantic link more broadly? Lastly, looking beyond implementation, can we discern the emergence of a more ambitious PESCO in terms of, for instance, projects, defence alignment and a “core group”?


  • Panel 2 will then look at how PESCO can be made to work: Once the objectives are defined, how can Member States make the most of this new instrument and select the right capability projects? How will the link with the European Commission and its European Defence Fund be operationalised? And how can PESCO, CARD and the NATO Defence Planning Process work together?


The aim of the seminar is to identify obstacles,  limitations and opportunities in order to put forward concrete recommendations to make PESCO work. For the sake of the security of Europe: we need to give PESCO a chance.


Participation by invitation only – The Chatham House Rule applies




14.00–14.15  Welcome & Introduction


Prof. Dr. Sven Biscop, Egmont & Ghent University

Dr. Margriet Drent,  Clingendael Institute


14.15–15.00   Keynote Speeches


Chair: Prof. Dr. Sven Biscop, Egmont & Ghent University

  • Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Germany
  • Ambassadeur Nicolas Suran, Permanent Representative of France to the PSC


15.00–16.30 Panel 1: The Point of PESCO


Chair: Dr. Margriet Drent, Clingendael Institute

  • Jean-Pierre Van Aubel, Chair, Politico-Military Group.
  • Bastian Giegerich, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London
  • Joachim Hofbauer, Defence Investment Division, NATO
  • Dr. Sven Biscop, Egmont & Ghent University


16.30–17.00 Coffee


17.00–18.30 Panel 2: Making PESCO Work


Chair: Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) Jo Coelmont, Egmont & Royal Higher Institute for Defence

  • Brig-Gen. Heinz Krieb, EU Military Staff
  • Michael Simm, European Defence Agency
  • Christian Mölling, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik (DGAP), Berlin
  • Dick Zandee, Clingendael Institute