Ensuring peace in our continent and the security of our citizens is at the heart of the European project. European integration made unconceivable a new war amongst the Union's countries. Currently, however, ensuring our security involves dealing with threats that transcend borders. No country can face them alone, but we are stronger together.
At the European level, we are building peace and fighting the root causes of the current security concerns - from economic and political insecurity to climate change, in our neighbourhood as well as in the rest of the world. We know that coercive power by itself cannot solve a crisis. It is necessary to complement our persuasive power with greater cooperation in the defence area.
In December 2016, leaders of the European Union (EU) reached an agreement on a plan to deepen cooperation in security and defence. Our common plan focuses on three complementary strategic priorities:
4. Protect the EU and its citizens;
5. Respond to external conflicts and crises;
6. Enhance our partners' capabilities.
The EU Member-States have significant experience in cooperating to promote security, namely through 16 EU military and civilian missions on the ground.
On this basis, we moved towards the creation of a common European Defence Fund in 2017 to finance joint research and development; we established the military planning and conduct capability (MPCC) within the EU military staff (EUMS), we launched a Centre of Excellence to improve our analysis of hybrid threats and our capacity to answer those, and we enhanced our cooperation with NATO.
Two very important measures are currently being taken forward.
For the first time, Member-States are sharing defence spending plans, with the purpose of better identifying shortfalls, assuring greater consistency, and benefiting from economies of scale, in a process which will become known as Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD).
Secondly, we are creating a permanent structure for cooperation in defence between Member-States that are willing to, and capable of, developing defence capabilities collectively, investing in common projects, or creating multinational formations. Dozens of projects will be discussed by the Member-States that take part in this Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).
By doing more together, as well as cooperating with our partners, we will be more effective, more efficient, and stronger. Together we can provide the security that our citizens need in a rapidly changing world.
Text and infographics produced by the European External Action Service.