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EU Permanent Structured Co-operation Projects

Volume 745: debated on Monday 19 February 2024

1. What assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of participating in further EU permanent structured co-operation projects. (901512)

The Department’s priority is to finalise entry into the permanent structured co-operation military mobility project before considering involvement in other projects. However, we assess that the EU’s standard “third country” terms for PESCO projects involving procurement or capability development will continue to impose significant constraint on UK involvement.

I appreciate that the UK Government’s attitude to PESCO is to take each project on a case-by-case basis, but may I suggest that publishing criteria for that case-by-case assessment would be useful? It is obvious to the dogs in the street that PESCO will evolve at light-speed, and the UK risks missing out on a lot of important co-operation that could be beneficial. Will the Minister publish that guidance? Otherwise, I will be tabling 68 parliamentary questions to cover each of the 68 PESCO mechanisms.

I note the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion, and I fear that my answer will give him encouragement to table the 68 questions, because it is right that we consider each opportunity in PESCO on its merits. PESCO is a vehicle for increasing military mobility around the continent. Non-EU NATO partners support that fully, and the UK is among them, but industrial or technological co-operation will not always be in the UK’s interest, or in the interest of UK industry, so it is right that we consider these things case by case.