The decision to establish the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and plans presented by 25 European Union member states to work together on a first set of 17 collaborative defence projects has been welcomed by the European Commission.

“In June I said it was time to wake up the Sleeping Beauty of the Lisbon Treaty: permanent structured cooperation,” said European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. “Six months later, it is happening.”

Juncker said Europe cannot and should not outsource our security and defence.

“The European Defence Fund that the European Commission proposed will complement these efforts and act as a further incentive for defence cooperation – including potential funding for some of the projects presented today,” he added.

According to a European Commission press release, PESCO is an instrument in the EU Treaty to enable willing member states to pursue greater cooperation in defence and security.

On November 13, there were 23 member states (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden) that took a first step towards launching the Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence. Since then, Ireland and Portugal have also joined, bringing the total number of participating countries to 25.

Juncker has been calling for a stronger Europe on security and defence since his election campaign. In April 2014, he said: “Pooling defence capacities in Europe makes perfect economic sense”.

According to the Commission, PESCO (a Treaty-based framework and process) will enable member states to jointly develop defence capabilities, invest in shared projects and enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces. These initial projects are expected to be formally adopted by the Council in early 2018.