This is second part of the Conclusions document, focusing on defense. See link at bottom to access the complete document—Ed.
External security and defence
6. The European Council reiterates its commitment to strengthening EU cooperation on external security and defence so as to protect the Union and its citizens and contribute to peace and stability in its neighbourhood and beyond. Together with all its diplomatic and civil capabilities, the EU brings a unique mix of possibilities to this enterprise. As reflected in the Council conclusions of 18 May and 19 June 2017, significant progress has been achieved in implementing the EU Global Strategy in the area of Security and Defence and the Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw by EU and NATO leaders. The transatlantic relationship and EU-NATO cooperation remain key to our overall security, allowing us to respond to evolving security threats, including cyber, hybrid and terrorism. The European Council welcomes the establishment in Helsinki of a European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats. The high-level conference on security and defence held in Prague on 9 June 2017 underlined both the complementarity between the EU and NATO and the need to step up European efforts to strengthen our defence related research, capabilities and operations.
7. The joint development of capability projects commonly agreed by Member States to fill the existing major shortfalls and develop the technologies of the future is crucial to fulfil the level of ambition of the EU approved by the European Council in December 2016. The European Council welcomes the Commission's communication on a European Defence Fund, composed of a research window and a capability window, and is looking forward to its swift operationalisation. It calls for rapid agreement on the proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme with a view to its swift implementation, before more comprehensive programmes can be envisaged in the medium term.
The European Council calls on Member States to identify suitable capability projects for the European Defence Fund and for the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. The European Council invites the Member States to further work on options for the joint procurement of capabilities within the European Defence Fund based on sound financing mechanisms. The objective is to deliver capabilities, ensure a competitive, innovative and balanced basis for Europe's defence industry across the EU, including by cross border cooperation and participation of SMEs, and to contribute to greater European defence cooperation, by exploiting synergies and mobilising EU support in addition to Member States' financing.
European defence industrial development will also require EU support for SME and intermediate (mid-cap) investments in the area of security and defence. In this respect, the European Council recalls its invitation to the European Investment Bank to examine steps with a view to supporting investments in defence research and development activities.
8. To strengthen Europe's security and defence in today's challenging geopolitical environment and to help reach the level of ambition of the EU expressed in the EU Global Strategy, the European Council agrees on the need to launch an inclusive and ambitious Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).
A common list of criteria and binding commitments, fully in line with Articles 42(6) and 46 TEU and Protocol 10 to the Treaty - including with a view to the most demanding missions - will be drawn up by Member States within three months, with a precise timetable and specific assessment mechanisms, in order to enable Member States which are in a position to do so to notify their intentions to participate without delay. This work has to be consistent with Member States' national defence planning and commitments agreed within NATO and the UN by Member States concerned. Concrete collaborative projects and initiatives should also be identified in support of PESCO's common goals, commitments and criteria.
9. To strengthen the EU's rapid response toolbox, the European Council agrees that the deployment of Battlegroups should be borne as a common cost by the EU-managed Athena mechanism on a permanent basis. It also urges the Council to speed up its work on greater responsiveness of the civilian crisis management.
10. The European Council will come back to these issues at one of its next meetings.
Click here for the full statement on security and defense.
Click here for a background paper on EU cooperation on security and defence.
Click here for related remarks by President Donald Tusk