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EDA Chief Executive Alexander Weis Outlines EDA Agenda at a Colloquium in Helsinki

Thank you for inviting me to this Colloquium. I feel at home in Helsinki, because Finland has been a staunch supporter of the European Defence Agency from the beginning. It actively contributes to many EDA activities and projects, and we have several excellent Finnish nationals working at EDA, including since January this year Jukka Juusti as new Armaments Director. And, of course, I have to mention your National Armaments Director, Eero Lavonen, who continues to serve the Agency as the Chairman of our Steering Board in NADs formation.

So, I am very happy to explain to you what EDA is about and what we are doing.

In the simplest terms, EDA is the “back office” for the European Security and Defence Policy – ESDP. Its task is to improve the military capabilities needed to carry out ESDP operations.

So, let me say a few words on EDA in general – its functions, how it operates and how it fits in the family of European institutions. I will then point to our achievements so far and our 2008 agendas.

EDA General

The European Defence Agency is an intergovernmental Agency. It can only function and succeed in close cooperation with its participating Member States. They are the key shareholders.

This implies that EDA has a limited role, but an important one. It coordinates, it stimulates and promotes cooperation between the Member States, and it provides the common tent under which European collaborations can take place.

Logically, the Agency is controlled by the Member States. In our case it is not the Council but the Agency’s Steering Board. That is the place where decisions are taken and guidance is given. The Steering Board is composed of 26 Ministers of Defence and meets at least twice per year, normally back-to-back with the half-yearly meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Defence Ministers composition. Javier Solana is the Head of the Agency and chairs the Ministerial Steering Board meetings.

Furthermore, the Steering Board meets at sub-ministerial levels: Capability Directors, National Armaments Directors and Research & Technology Directors.

The EDA is small in size and budget. We have just under 100 staff and our functional budget is around € 20 million. In addition we have a few million to spend on studies, mainly to investigate potential for future collaborations between the Member States (what we call pre-feasibility studies).

Nevertheless, EDA has a wide set of functional responsibilities. Our four functional areas are:

Harmonisation of military requirements, Promoting Joint Defence Research and Technology, Promoting Armaments Cooperation, and Creating a European Defence Equipment Market and strengthening the European Defence Industrial Base.

The founding fathers of the Agency have given us these four functional areas because we need to make progress on all four of them together to improve military capabilities. For you it may sound simple and logical. But I can tell you that in many European countries, military planners, research establishments, Industry & Markets experts and those responsible for acquisition (the Armaments Directorates) still live in separate worlds.

So, what we call the Integrated Way of Working, with representatives of these four disciplines working closely together at the European level, is in fact breaking with the past. It is crucial to our success.

But let me underline that EDA will remain a capability-driven Agency. The Agency works closely with defence industries, but will not become a tool they can steer as they want. Rather, it will work in the opposite direction. Any projects or programmes we launch must be viewed through the lens of the capabilities needed by the military.

EDA – Achievements and 2008 Agendas

I would now like to focus on our achievements which are quite notable considering that we have been operating for barely three years. Taking up the last remark on a capability-driven Agency with a particular focus beyond the near term, one of the first notable outputs of the EDA was the Long Term Vision, a report which was endorsed by European Defence Ministers in October 2006. It describes in general terms what sort of challenges Europe will face in 10 to 20 years from now and what these challenges mean for the capabilities we need. You can find the complete Long Term Vision on our website.

The LTV is now being elaborated into a more detailed Capability Development Plan (the CDP), to be approved in early July this year. It is not a plan in the traditional sense. It will not subscribe the numbers of tanks, aircraft and ships the Member States should have. That is Cold War defence planning. Rather, the CDP will provide a global picture of capability needs, capability trends and capability shortfalls. At the same time it will provide “actionable conclusions”, setting the agendas for real programmes and early opportunities for collaborations between the Member States. And, naturally, we expect the Member States to take the CDP into account when developing or adjusting their national defence plans.

On Defence Research & Technology, we have actually made more progress with concrete results than with the theoretical basis. We hope that in November this year Ministers will approve a European Defence Research & Technology Strategy, describing both the ends – the technologies European countries should invest in -- and the means -- how they should invest more effectively and do more together. And, in a few weeks from now, we hope to get approval from Defence Ministers on a list of key technologies Europe needs to preserve or develop so that we are not dependent on non-European suppliers for these critical elements.

But, as I said, we have made a great breakthrough in the practical field, namely by launching the Defence R&T Joint Investment Programme on Force Protection (the ‘JIP’). It was approved in November 2006, with 19 of the Member States plus Norway joining the Programme. We are very pleased that Finland is among the participants. Together they have made some € 55 million available, to be invested in technology research in support of specific Force Protection capability aims. The programme is an excellent example of close cooperation between the military and researchers. It also is a breakthrough in another sense. In traditional collaborative research efforts, contributors sometimes seemed as concerned with ensuring that their share of the funds was spent on activities in their countries as on the final results of the efforts. Under the JIP, projects are allocated to bidders by a management board of all contributors, based on competition. And the R&T institutions or laboratories have to create consortia with others to be able to bid, including at least one SME-type institution or industry. In that way the JIP also helps to generate more R&T networking in Europe.

In short: the JIP is a great success and, in 2008, we hope to launch a second Joint Investment Programme, demonstrating that we are making progress in spending better and spending more together on Defence R&T.

On the Industry and Market side, the biggest achievement is the Regime on Defence Procurement and its Code of Conduct. The Code has created a step-change in opening up the European Defence Equipment Market, which until recently was exempt from the normal single market competition rules under Article. 296 of the European Communities Treaty and was therefore effectively a series of national markets, not a European one. The Code has now been up and running for more than a year-and-a-half. Governments have advertised about 260 contract opportunities on our online portal, the Electronic Bulletin Board, with a value over €10 billion. Finland[A1]  is an active contributor to the EBB. We have seen so far 16 cross-border awards of contracts and, naturally, we would like to see that number increasing in support of our aim to make the EDEM more transparent and more competitive  [A1]Check how much advertised by Finland and whether any cross-border awards.

Also in this area, last May Ministers approved the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base or the EDTIB Strategy, which gives direction towards realising a stronger, more competent and more competitive EDTIB. There is now consensus on the need for more interdependence in the European DTIB as well as less dependence on non-European key industrial capabilities. Of course, the question is “how to get there?” We are working on the basis of a set of roadmaps to take the work forward in a practical sense. A crucial activity is to define the key industrial capabilities in Europe, which will also contribute to improving long-term Security of Supply, and, therefore, to increasing European autonomy. The first sector we will focus on is “Future Air Systems”, simply because discussions with our Member States have shown that most views converge on the future importance of this key industrial capability in Europe.

A major specific item this year is EDA work on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs. We hope to realise a breakthrough in a topic that nobody so far has tackled in an all-inclusive way, namely the insertion of UAVs into normal air space. This is an issue with many dimensions: legal and regulatory elements – not for the Agency to arrange but the Agency might bring them to the fore; certification procedures – a standard for certification could be developed by EDA; and, of course, new technologies needed to ensure that UAVs can fly in regulated air space with the same safety guarantees as manned aircraft – such as ‘Sense and Avoid’ technologies, an area where the Agency has early results from a study conducted in the recent past.

This coming spring, another study will deliver the full picture of what is needed for insertion of UAVs into regulated air space. Based on the study results EDA will define a business case. This business case will be used to spend € 6 million, which have been earmarked in the Agency’s 2008 budget.

And UAVs form a good example how we work closely together with the European Commission. Why? Because the Commission is investing money under the European Security Research Programme for future needs of UAVs for civil use (for example for border control, disaster relief, and so on). It would be foolish to miss the opportunity to harmonise civil and military requirements. And it would be even worse to spend money twice on developing comparable technologies. And there are other areas where we are coordinating closely with the Commission to seek civil-military synergies (for example on Software Defined Radio and Maritime Surveillance).

An output-oriented Agency

A final remark. Ultimately, the success of the Agency will be measured by more and better European capabilities becoming available to the EU.

But such success will not come naturally. The Agency will do whatever it can, but we depend absolutely on our participating Member States.

First of all, we need them to bring forward suggestions for real projects which are important to them and which can bring real results and deliver real capabilities. Even more important, it is national governments who have to decide how to spend their money and what to spend it on, so they invest in the right capabilities and increase cooperation with others.

As I said at the beginning of my talk, here, in Finland, I feel at home and I am preaching to the converted. But I call on all of you to assist the Agency and in your contacts, both inside and outside Finland, to convince others of the need to work more closely together in Europe for the benefit of all.

Thank you very much for your attention. Now I would be happy to address any questions you might have.