EC meeting, Migration on top of agenda as EU steps up its defence game with PESCO

On 14-15 December, the European Council welcomes the establishment of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) by the European Foreign Affairs Council.

PESCO signals a renewed effort to discuss defence in European framework but its pragmatic and inclusive structure manifests the difficulties of overcoming diverging strategic perspectives. The twenty-five signatory countries will take part in the projects on an intergovernmental basis so that political priorities and ambitions of each initiative will be discussed in small circles. Two out of seventeen planned activities cover maritime and harbour surveillance showing the significant influence of Western countries and critical interest on Southern neighbourhood and migration.

Migration was also discussed but in an informal setting. Reform of the EU's Common European Asylum System is underway to address both domestic and external challenges. While European leaders largely support external borders’ security,  they are highly divided on the internal dimension, namely on the permanent quota scheme proposed by the Commission. The Visegrad Four offered 35 million euros to the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to prevent migration from Libya instead. The reform is expected to be voted in the next Council in June 2019, with the Bulgarian Presidency deciding the voting procedure.

About author: Giada Negri

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