News agency Reuters reported that according to three EU diplomats the UK, the US and other non-members will be allowed to participate in future European Union (EU) defence projects. Amongst others, this will include the development of aircrafts, helicopters and weapons.
According to the EU diplomats the non-members will be allowed to participate under an ‘exceptional basis’. Non-member countries will be allowed only on individual projects and must bring expertise to each specific project. This decision follows a long-standing discussion if the UK, after the Brexit, will be allowed to participate in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).
PESCO was officially launched in November 2017 and is part of the EU’s security and defence policy (CSDP). It helps increase defence cooperation among the participating member nations and deliver capabilities that will improve security to EU citizens. PESCO currently holds membership from 25 EU Member states. In addition, the EU proposed in May this year to set aside €8bn from the budget for a new and complementary EU defence fund.
As the European Defence cooperation is growing, the Member states together have access to 178 weapon systems in total. In comparison, the US, which is said to be the biggest military power in the world, owns 30. This shows that the EU can not only be an economic power, but has the ability to become a bigger military power as well. However, the EU’s record suggests that the civil components will always take priority and the military components will in the first instance be used as a big stick and as a last resort.