SMEs fear that the European Defence Fund might first and foremost benefit prime defence suppliers, including Airbus DS. What would you respond to them?
Look at the situation we have today. All primes rely heavily on their suppliers. Why should that change just because the money for the final product comes from another source? In addition, the consolidation of Europe’s defence industry can only be in the interest of the customer.
What impact do you expect Brexit to have on European defence? Politically, but also for Europe’s defence industry and future collaborative projects?
As a truly European company we deeply regret this process. Currently we can’t foresee the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and therefore have to be prepared for different scenarios. Of course we still hope that there will be finally a pragmatic solution where the UK will remain an important part of our supply chain and of our talent pool.
One of the EDA’s core missions is to facilitate defence cooperation and strengthen Europe’s defence technological and industrial base. In your view, what could the Agency do more, or perhaps differently in this respect?
The EDA was at the forefront of the recent pooling and sharing initiative involving an increasing number of nations around the acquisition of multi-role tanker/transport aircraft. This has been a true success for the Agency, with the potential for more nations to join, and should therefore encourage it to replicate this process with other existing military capabilities.
In an even less visible area, but nonetheless very important, the EDA should intensify its work on harmonizing military requirements, through Common Staff Targets and ultimately Common Staff Requirements, be it in future military Govsatcom, military Earth observation or Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
The EDA has also a card to play in the soon-to-be created EU defence research programme and also in the EU defence industrial development programme (EDIDP) which should focus on late-stage development, prototyping and demonstration activities for high end capabilities. For these new initiatives the Agency will undoubtedly need additional staff and experts. But in any case it can count on the complete support and cooperation of the defence industry , because the coordination should take place as early as possible, ideally even in the definition and selection of priorities.