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Comparative Analysis of French and German Priorities in the Elaboration of PESCO
Analysis and Forecasting. IMEMO Journal

Comparative Analysis of French and German Priorities in the Elaboration of PESCO

DOI: 10.20542/afij-2019-2-33-47
© 2019 P. Timofeev
Received 17.07.2019.
Pavel P. TIMOFEEV (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.
Acknowledgements. The article was prepared at IMEMO within the project of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research No 18-011-00464 “Germany’s Changing Role in the European Union Integration and Transatlantic Processes. The Challenges for Russia”.

The article focuses on the French and German approaches towards Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) – a new EU defense initiative launched in 2017. The author shows PESCO as well as European integration became a result of the compromises of European states, led by both France and Germany. Following brief history of PESCO, the author compares two approaches towards PESCO objectives, content, concrete practical projects and correlation between PESCO and NATO. The author highlights common points in the positions of Paris and Berlin: their goal – strengthening the military-political potential of the EU in the world; their willingness to work together on specific and prospective projects (including modernization of combat helicopters and the creation of flying eurodrones) and understanding of PESCO as not an alternative for NATO. In the same time the author shows the specifics and the differences of both approaches, based on geography, economy and pragmatism, law and military traditions, competition for EU leadership. Dominating German approach is “inclusive” and more cautious: it aims at the progressive development of European integration in the military area, which, through joint political and economic efforts of all EU member states, should lead to a common defense policy. French approach being more “ambitious” aims at shaping a group of states led by France, capable of conducting interventions - thus solving offensive tasks. Two different philosophies determine distinct views on concrete projects: France is more proactive than Germany and shows a greater interest in projects related to the direct conduct of hostilities. Berlin is seeking to focus on more “technical” cases. Finally, Paris and Berlin see the PESCO relationship with NATO in different ways: PESCO is seen in Germany as an addition to the Alliance, while France avoids comparing both structures, perhaps planning to give PESCO more ambitious scope in the future. The author concludes the French-German cooperation in the work on PESCO looks promising and can strengthen EU defense convergence. At the same time, the article shows objective limitations that could stop or completely disrupt this project.


About author:

Pavel P. TIMOFEEV, Cand. Sci. (Polit.), Senior Researcher, Sector of Regional Issues and Conflicts, Department of European Political Studies.


For citation:

Timofeev P. Comparative Analysis of French and German Priorities in the Elaboration of PESCO. Analysis & Forecasting. Journal of IMEMO, 2019, no 2, pp. 33-47.

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