German, French defense ministers talk new European security force

DW – June 1, 2017

At the press conference in Berlin after their first bilateral meeting, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her newly-appointed French colleague Sylvie Goulard started with a few words in each other’s language. The message was obvious. France and Germany want to be seen as a unit, working hand-in-hand to make Europe more responsible for its own security.

“We know that our common friendship and common work goes far beyond bilateralism,” von der Leyen said. “For both of our countries it’s crucial that we create more for Europe and that we work together toward a European defense and security union.”

At the core of those efforts is the so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, which in the words of the European Commission, “allows a core group of countries to take systematic steps towards a more coherent security and defense policy without dividing the Union.” Essentially, it is a mechanism allowing willing countries to launch joint security projects without requiring all EU member states to agree or participate.