Recent developments in the EU have created a “window of opportunity” which should be seized to relaunch the European defence policy and strengthen the European defence industry by taking decisive action, the Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA), Jorge Domecq, has said.
Speaking at an industrial event in Brussels recently, Mr Domecq stressed that “never before over the last 10 years have we had such opportunity to relaunch the European defence project and provide it with renewed impetus and commitment”.
The EU Global Strategy (EUGS), the various initiatives taken by different Member States, the Commission President’s State of the Union address have all added to this “general sense of step change”, he said. “I sincerely believe that what we now need is action, not words: seizing a window of opportunity not window dressing or declarations of intent”.
The EUGS, Mr Domecq said, has to be backed up by a “concrete and ambitious Implementation Plan” which will have to tackle many issues at the same time: Permanent Structured Cooperation, Defence Semester, a more output oriented Capability Development Plan, the identification of key strategic activities, the advancement on critical enablers such as standardization, certification and airworthiness.
Strengthen the EDTIB
The EDA Chief Executive, who was delivering the key note speech at a diner-debate organized by the Saab Group, particularly insisted on the need to strengthen the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) to ensure its remains competitive, efficient and capable of providing Europe’s Armed Forces with the capabilities they will need in the future.
Investing more in Research and Technologies (R&T) will be absolutely key, especially given that today’s defence R&T expenditure is down to its lowest level since 2006. “The massive decline in budgetary terms of our defence R&T efforts is a matter of the highest concern.
It is the capabilities of the future which are at stake here. It is also the competitiveness of our defence industry which is at risk”, he said. “Without a strong and competitive EDTIB we will not only loose our freedom of action, an appropriate level of strategic autonomy, our ability to design and develop, operate and maintain state-of-the-art defence equipment, but our defence culture altogether”, Mr Domecq warned.
Better exploiting EU funding
Mr Domecq also called for an optimal use all available means to incentivize cooperation among Member States and improve the quality of spending. “The EDA can play a key role here, including by closely cooperating with the European Commission to better exploit the relevant EU funding, policy and programmatic instruments that the European Defence Action Plan is going to highlight by the end of the year”, he said.