Foreign ministers of the group—France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain—urged Ashton to
“examine all institutional and legal options available to member states, including permanent structured co-operation, to develop critical CSDP [common security and defence policy] capabilities, notably a permanent planning and conduct capability.”
“We would appreciate [it] if you present conclusions of the work . . . with a view to achieving tangible results by the end of the year.”
“Permanent structured co-operation” is an EU treaty option that allows nine or more member-states to press ahead on a project without the others, even though it would use the structures of the EU institutions. The initiative is a long-cherished one by Poland and France, which wants to go beyond EU battle groups—temporary teams from two or three EU countries ready to be sent to hotspots at short notice—towards an EU army.
The United States has said in the past that it wants the EU to do more in managing world crises. But the group of five risk angering Britain, the EU’s biggest military spender, which forcefully criticised the idea.