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EU Defence Ministers Call for Strengthening the Defence Sector’s Access to Finance

Brussels, 14 November 2023 – Meeting at the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency (EDA), EU Defence Ministers endorsed a Joint Statement on strengthening the EDTIB’s access to finance and its ability to contribute to peace, stability, and sustainability in Europe. The statement emphasizes the importance of enhancing the EDTIB's access to both public and private finance, deemed critical for sustaining industrial operations, fostering innovation, and enhancing competitiveness. 

Access to both public and private finance has emerged as a growing concern for the European Union's defence sector, particularly impacting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Middle-sized enterprises (MidCaps). This challenge is attributed to the rapid expansion of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing and the increasing significance of ESG reporting within Europe.

The EDTIB contributes significantly to European societies in terms of jobs, economic growth, and technological innovation. It also plays in a key supporting role in ensuring Europe’s security and resilience through the equipment and capabilities that it produces for Member States’ Armed Forces. Thus, the unique character of the defence industry needs to be duly taken into account when assessing the EDTIB’s ESG-performance and pursuing efforts aimed at enhancing the sustainability of Europe’s economy and industry. These efforts cannot come at the expense of the operational effectiveness of the Member States’ Armed Forces.

EDA Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý, said, “The EDTIB requires steadfast access to public and private finance for its industrial operations, innovation in green technologies, and long-term competitiveness. The unique role and mission of the EDTIB means that limited access to finance jeopardizes scaling and R&D operations. As we work to build a stronger European defence, the defence market also needs to ensure access to potential investors at this crucial time.”

The Joint Statement outlines several proposed steps for the way forward. Importantly, it calls upon both public and private finance institutions, along with relevant investors and market participants, to refrain from discriminatory practices against investments in the EDTIB. The Statement urges these entities to adjust their policies in alignment with this commitment.

EDA remains dedicated to fostering an environment that supports the EDTIB and recognises its vital contribution to Europe's overall safety and security. The endorsement of this Joint Statement signals a united front in addressing the financial challenges faced by the EU's defence sector, especially SMEs and MidCaps, in the evolving landscape of ESG investing.

Full Statement here