We sat down with representatives from three European Defence Agency (EDA) Member States – Austria’s Defence Policy Director Major General Johann Frank, Greece’s National Armament Director Vice Admiral Kyriakos Kyriakidis and France’s National Capability Director Major General Eric Charpentier – to hear what impact the EU defence initiatives have already had on their national defence planning.

  • AT
  • This project will support Member States’ commitment to simplify and standardise cross-border military transport procedures. It aims to enhance the speed of movement of military forces across Europe.

    It aims to guarantee the unhindered movement of military personnel and assets within the borders of the EU. This entails avoiding long bureaucratic procedures to move through or over EU Member States, be it via rail, road, air or sea.

    The project should help to reduce barriers such as legal hurdles to cross- border movement, lingering bureaucratic requirements (such as passport checks at some border crossings) and infrastructure problems, like roads and bridges that cannot accommodate large military vehicles.

  • GR
  • By setting-up a scene of incentives, commitments and processes, the EU defence cooperation tools have prepared the ground for the progressive cultivation of a common approach toward defence matters, assisted by the establishment of a consistent and effective maturation chain of related technologies towards capabilities. A key element behind that process is the early involvement of the general staffs, being the end users in interaction with industry and RTOs.

    Regarding Greece and having in mind the country’s geographical location, security and defence challenges are constantly high in the national priorities. Nevertheless, due to the size scale, resource and other constraints, the derived prioritisation leads to a limited MOD’s research and development effort, compared to its armament requirements, but also compared to the actual skills and competences of the domestic technological and industrial base. That is precisely the opportunity offered by the EU cooperative initiatives. As a member of the European family, Greece intends to take advantage of the offered resources and shared experience in order to establish the appropriate governing structures, regulative framework and associated processes to foster the domestic RTOs and industrial ecosystem to demonstrate its best as part of the EDITB.

  • FR
  • In my view, these new tools have two main benefits. First and above all, I think they have enabled the establishment of a coherent capability process. This process aims at satisfying clearly identified military needs so as to reach political objectives defined by the global strategy. In that respect, this mechanism ensures that developed capabilities will always comply with EU ambitions. Furthermore, tools such as PESCO or EDIDP have already encouraged a very efficient cooperation between Member States. This unprecedented and tight cooperation contributes significantly to tackling the capability deficit which we have to fill. Beyond, it helps with fostering a common approach to shared issues, be they operations- or capability- driven, or a shared strategic analysis. By doing so, the effects will make Europe stronger and consequently consolidate NATO. I am therefore convinced that cooperation is the key! In France, this process has clearly enabled us to think more collectively and more specifically the idea of European defence. In fact, tools such as PESCO or EDIDP have already shown tangible results. I noticed that these first results triggered further fruitful discussions within the French Ministry of Armed Forces, thus feeding again this great project. Let us keep up the good work! Our efforts will soon provide us with military capabilities that will make the difference on tomorrow’s battlefield.

  • AT
  • For Austria, being a non-NATO EU-member, CSDP is the most important framework for our security policy. Therefore we demonstrate high participation in CSDP related projects. For example, Austria is currently participating in 8 PESCO projects. Right from the beginning, we participated actively in the different defence initiatives such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence trial run (CARD), the strengthening of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) by providing additional staff personel or in various PESCO, especially the one led by Austria (CBRN SaaS) and in the development of the scenarios within the framework of the Headline Goal Process. The Capability Goals derived from this process are directly transferred into the Austrian MoD Capability Planning Process. The Requirements Catalogue feeds into the further development of the Austrian Concept for Missions Abroad that defines the national ambition and necessary capabilities for Austria’s participation in international crisis management. All the different EU defence initiatives, especially the PESCO projects, are reflected in our national defence planning.

  • GR
  • The Hellenic MoD is actively involved in the EU initiatives from the early stages of deliberations and related decision making. At national level, specific actions have been taken to raise awareness and inform interested parties within the MoD, other competent authorities as well as industry and academia. The General Staff took the initiative to prepare PESCO project proposals while special attention has been paid by GDDIA to ensure the defence industry is ready to participate in the EDIDP as the test bed to the future EDF. To succeed with all these novel tasks a number of customised ad-hoc processes has been approved which will eventually lead to the adaptation of the defence capability planning and development procedures to the new realities. The outcome at this stage is considered notably satisfactory: Greece leads five out of the 47 current PESCO projects while it is involved in another 14 as participant or observer. Furthermore four Greek led EDIDP project proposals have been submitted responding to the initial 2019 calls in cooperation with Cyprus, with two of them being under the PESCO context. Overall, it has to be stressed that there is a strong will and commitment of the political and military leadership to face the challenges and move forward for the sake of our shared European vision.

  • FR
  • I can say that European cooperation in capability planning and development, more powerful now with the new tools, has become a priority for France. Cooperating enables us to respond to national requirements while contributing to EU’s strategic objectives.

    The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) perfectly underlines my point. Three Member States - Germany, Spain and France – cooperate in order to develop a future 6th generation combat aircraft. It is obvious, that if these three Member States benefit from the capabilities of this weapon system, the EU will do so, too. We have learned to be more inclusive, and this has helped us deepen our reflection on the combat cloud as an example, which is tomorrow’s main challenge. With this conviction, France has decided that 35% of the capabilities scheduled in the current Military Programming Law will be developed in cooperation with partners. This dynamic development, mostly driven by EDA, has led us to partnerships with Member States we had not often collaborated with before. The multilateral approach appears very valuable, it fosters cohesion and thus enables even more efficient cooperation. Moreover, I would like to emphasise that a fruitful cooperation, especially if it is pushed by the EDF, will for sure strengthen the EDTIB.

    Finally, capability co-development appears to be a very efficient driver for improved interoperability between the European armed forces. I am convinced that a strong EDTIB together with coordinated DoDs and armed forces capable of operating jointly will enable the EU to realise its ambition. The new capability development tools will be very helpful in this regard.

  • AT
  • The EU defence industry still remains nation-oriented and fragmented. This results in unsatisfactory cost structures, disadvantages in international competition and thus potentially higher burdens on our defence budget. The national orientation can also lead to a lack of interoperability of the armed forces in Europe in joint operations. It is therefore necessary to jointly plan, develop, procure and provide military capabilities and increase the interoperability of the armed forces in Europe in order to further improve Europe’s capability to act. An active integrated management will be required in order to ensure the sustainable implementation and coherence of the EU defence initiatives. The HR/VP and Head of EDA has to play a crucial role in that. The objective should be to coordinate the instruments in order to achieve the best possible results. This requires, in particular, a strategic approach for a common and coordinated European military capability development, early information sharing at political-strategic level and early EDA involvement in a strategic planning process as well as the harmonisation of defence procurement cycles. A sufficient degree of EU-internal transparency is a prerequisite for ensuring coherent implementation. Although the current toolset is beneficial, it also adds an additional layer of complexity. This is particularly true for the current annual PESCO cycle. We should reflect upon the suitability of the annual call for new PESCO initiatives in favour of properly implementing what is already in the making and analysing/implementing lessons from what has been achieved so far. This is of particular relevance in view of the ongoing discussions about the main capability and technology areas that are to constitute the core of the upcoming EDF. In this regard, Austria would welcome more collective efforts on concept development to stimulate thinking about future EDF priorities and projects.

  • GR
  • The biggest challenge is the development of trust as key to incentivise and thus unlock effectiveness along the complex network of cooperating actors including EU bodies, industries, governments and military staffs. First of all, the general staffs need to be convinced that cooperation is still, if not more, effective for fulfilling their own targets and that EU funded R&D will contribute to fit for purpose capabilities that will not be industrially imposed. This is important in order to justify the required extra burden in manpower and adaptations. On the other side, SMEs require evidence that the EDF funding will not be spent to make traditional players stronger, irrespective of their potential. EU bodies have to demonstrate their ability in effectively coordinating and facilitating defence cooperation and also in handling the development of the defence technological and industrial base with the appropriate attention and sensitivity. And then, governments need to establish confidence that the common priorities, policies and actions will cover the national security and defence interests and will reinforce domestic capacity development. Above all, European citizens have to be convinced that the CSDP and the associated defence tools provide them with better security and defence no matter where they live and what they face.

    It is an interesting bet. It requires focus, patience and persistency to gradually change the stereotype beliefs and the traditional mindsets.

  • FR
  • In my view, the time of purely national approaches is mostly over. This new paradigm guides our reflections. It is necessary to reconsider sovereignty in order to be able to collectively agree on common specifications and express converging requirements. These necessary efforts will ensure the inclusive nature, which drives the European capability development process. Its efficiency depends on these efforts.

    In this spirit, eight states driven by an unprecedented cooperative dynamic joined forces within OCCAr to realise the A400M project. Their ability to reason on a supranational level explains the success of this innovative programme.

    In this way, it seems essential that EDA keeps playing the role for which the Agency was created in 2004. To me, this intergovernmental entity appears as the perfect forum for cooperation. For 15 years, in the name of its Member States, EDA has inspired, coordinated and managed many successful capability projects. In this regard, the Agency gives Members States the possibility to influence projects. We should never forget that only states can order, procure or use military capabilities! They alone bear the political cost of the legitimate use of force. We must therefore ensure that the new Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space within the European Commission provides the expected added value, without generating imbalances with Member States.

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