After the opening by the Head of Agency, Federica Mogherini (read news here), EDA’s 2018 Annual Conference taking place today in Brussels heard inspiring speeches from the new Chairman of the European Union Military Committee (EUMC), General Claudio Graziano, the European Commissioner responsible for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, the Chief of Defence of Estonia, General Riho Terras, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence of Austria, Dr Wolfgang Baumann (representing the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU) and the Senior Vice-President and Head of Urban Air Mobility within Airbus Strategy and International, Eduardo Dominguez Puerta.
Conference attendees also witnessed interesting statements and lively exchanges of views between high-level experts in three different discussion panels.
The first panel, moderated by Carmen Romero (NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary-General for Public Diplomacy), looked at how today’s Armed Forces are adapting to tomorrow’s technologies, with a special focus on unmanned and autonomous systems. The list of high-level panelists participating in this debate included Frank Bekkers (Director of the Security Programme at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies), Dr Luisa Riccardi (Director of Technical Innovation and Secretariat General of the Defence and National Armaments Directorate at the Ministry of Defence of Italy), Lieutenant General Atanas Zapryanov (Deputy Minister of Defence of Bulgaria) and Benedikt Zimmer (State Secretary for Procurement at the Ministry of Defence of Germany).
The second panel - composed by Rear Admiral Nicolas Vaujour (Deputy Chief of Staff Naval Operations, France) and Giovanni Soccodato (Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at Leonardo) and moderated by Brooks Tigner (Jane’s Defence Weekly) - discussed an assessed the current and future challenges and opportunities of unmanned maritime systems (UMS) from a technical and operational point of view.
The third panel, moderated by Dr Gustav Lindstrom (Director of the EU Institute for Security Studies), looked into the prospects for the use of Artificial Intelligence in defence.
EDA Deputy Chief Executive Olli Ruutu also handed over the newly-established EDA Defence Innovation Prize to the two winner companies of the first (2018) edition, Aitex and Clover Technologies (more information here).