A coordinated annual review of Member States’ defence planning and spending would help to achieve this. What is your take on this idea, would it be a step-change?
The term ‘European Defence Semester’ was recently put forward on numerous occasions like in the EU Global Strategy or the Initiative of the French and German defence ministers to revitalize CSDP. The answer to your question ties in with what has been said earlier. I am convinced the added value of a coordinated annual review would be an unprecedented level of transparency and also a higher political visibility on multinational and national capability development.
A coordinated annual review could be a periodic EU peer review of military and civilian capabilities as well as related shortfalls and budget lines, which makes full use of the existing processes and reporting systems in the EU and EDA (…) This approach could lift capability development to the political level and thus make EU defence planning more visible and politically more relevant.
You are the current chairman of the EDA Steering Board in Capability Directors composition. Based on your first year in this position, what are the biggest hurdles for enhanced capability cooperation and what could be done to overcome them?
In my view the cooperation between European capability directors is on a good way. However, there is still some room for improvement and an enhanced cooperation requires further steps. We need to meet more often and discuss the issues relevant to our level.
We have to ensure a common situational awareness, broad information sharing and free exchange of views between Capability Directors to allow well-informed decision making. With support of the EDA the right tools to foster these processes are available. Now we have to make best use of it.
However, we must not forget that the substance and its details cannot be handled by the directors’ level only. We need the entire ‘capability community’ to be successful. In this respect the new setup of ‘Capability Days’ to prepare the content of the Steering Boards in the format of Capability Directors as well as to give guidance to the expert level seems to me a promising way ahead.
All in all we clearly have to overcome a case-by-case or event driven dialogue. Therefore, we should investigate how to further improve our way of working and to achieve both more focus and more continuity.
How could EDA be enabled to better facilitate defence cooperation?
Let’s have a look at EDA’s history: Over the past twelve years, we have tried a number of measures and EDA has developed excellent offers to support the participating Member States (pMS) in numerous areas. There might even be some divergences of views amongst pMS on EDA’s performance. However, let us be honest: EDA remains a service provider for its Member States and its the pMS who play the decisive role when it comes to substantial cooperation. Therefore, EDA has to further provide services and instruments of support in its portfolio. From my point of view, I would also like to encourage EDA to further pursue a capability driven approach as the main driver of its activities across all relevant areas within EDA’s mandate in particular when it comes to R&T activities. EDA’s and pMS R&T activities must be first and foremost capability driven.
EDA is increasingly assuming the important role of the pMS’ voice in Brussels. Let’s take the Single European Sky (SES) activities, for example. Their results have become indispensable for national decision making processes.
We have already achieved remarkable progress, especially in capability planning and development. We need to tap EDA's full potential by further improvement and alignment of established fora and processes.
In the process of identifying and meeting requirements, the EDA should therefore focus on preparing multinational armament programmes, i.e. serve as a European coordination and catalyst forum for programme preparation. The further implementation should then be transferred to a dedicated management agency, such as OCCAR, or a pilot nation. The existing Administrative Arrangement between EDA and OCCAR provides the cornerstone for such an approach.