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Gergely Varga, associate research fellow of IFAT attended a roundtable discussion in Brussels

Gergely Varga, associate research fellow of IFAT attended the roundtable discussion entitled ‘PESCO: What role for the V4 in developing European strategic autonomy?’ held on 9-11 April in Brussels. Other participants of the roundtable discussion were Tomáš Szunyog, Deputy Head of the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU, Permanent Representative to the Political and Security Committee, and Justyna Gotkowska from the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) in Poland.

The purpose of the discussion was to explore the strategic goals and main drivers of the Visegrad countries in the initiatives of the EU Security and Defense Policy, in particular the Permanent Structured Cooperation of the EU (PESCO), the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the European Defence Fund (EDF). According to the participants, the above-mentioned initiatives are forward-looking, but they do not yet have mature institutional structures or procedural rules yet.

Each of the Visegrad countries supports the Permanent Structured Cooperation, yet they are well aware of its limitations. The establishment of the 17 PESCO projects is a major milestone, however, their objectives essentially focus on crisis management capabilities, thus they could only have a limited impact on the European capacity development. Participants also agreed that NATO Defense Planning plays a more decisive role in the defense planning process of the V4 than the EU Capability Development Plan (CDP); the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence is not expected to bring about any substantive changes in that regard. The V4 continues to support the current inclusive, intergovernmental Permanent Structured Cooperation, and they would also welcome the participation of the United Kingdom in PESCO.

It was also mentioned, that Poland has reservations about the use of the term “European strategic autonomy”, yet it has high hopes for the involvement of Central and Eastern European small and medium-sized enterprises from the defense industry in the European Defense Fund.  Hungary emphasized the voluntary and intergovernmental nature of the Permanent Structured Cooperation and set out the strengthening of NATO's European pillar and the EU's crisis-management and internal security capabilities as well as the promotion of Hungarian capability development as long-term goals.