29 Jul 2011 By JULIAN HALE DefenseNews
BRUSSELS - Poland will host a seminar to push ahead with ideas for possible pooling and sharing among European Union member states Sept. 19-20 ahead of an informal meeting of European Union defense ministers Sept. 22-23. Both meetings will take place in Poland, with the seminar in Krakow and the ministerial in Wroclaw.
"For this moment, there are no new specific programs to be launched soon by Poland in cooperation with other nations in the framework of pooling and sharing. However, we will be seeking opportunities to tighten cooperation in some areas like training and education, logistic support, medical support, satellite reconnaissance, counter ID or strategic transport," a Polish Ministry of Defence spokesperson said.
"We hope to achieve concrete results by the end of our presidency in the EU [in December 2011]. It means identifying countries that are interested in such cooperation with Poland," the spokesperson said.
The Poles are also looking to revisit the subject of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), brought in by the Lisbon Tready. PESCO allows a group of states that fulfill certain criteria such as budgetary commitment and deployability to enter into closer cooperation to improve European defense capabilities.
"We see the potential of this new instrument, which is to ensure synergies between the member states. We are in favor of continuing the discussions on the prospects of applying this format of cooperation and developing a common understanding of it," a Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said. "Member states' views on the subject remain varied. There is no political will to take any decisions at this stage."
When asked for details on Poland's criteria for PESCO, the spokesperson replied that "at this stage, PESCO as an instrument to strengthen performance in the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy is subject of our internal scrutiny, and there are no specific plans to inject it into official EU pipelines."
Defense News will revisit the issue as more details emerge. Many areas need clarification, including how many EU member states would be in such a type of cooperation and what role the European Defence Agency may play in it.