On 19 and 20 December 2013, for the first time since the Lisbon Treaty came into force, the Heads of State and Governments of the European Union (EU) held a thematic debate on defence, in the European Council. They identified a number of actions for stronger cooperation within the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), to address critical shortfalls in capability development. They highlighted the need for “a more integrated, sustainable, innovative and competitive defence and technological and industrial base (EDTIB) to develop and sustain defence capabilities.” They also stressed that EDTIB should be strengthened and that “these efforts should be inclusive with opportunities for defence industry in the EU, balanced and in full compliance with EU law”. To address this, the EDA seeks to promote equal opportunities and a ‘fair chance’ of access to the EDTIB for all EDA Member States’ defence industries by facilitating the effective participation of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in cooperative defence industrial programmes and international supply chains across Europe. This forms part of the EDA’s wider effort to ensure a level playing field across EDTIB and to support the CEE Member States’ efforts to become more active and visible within the EDTIB.
Stocktake industrial defence capabilities/capacities
To map CEE EDA Member States’ defence industrial capabilities, especially niche capabilities/capacities, as well as government and industry investment/development priorities; and, to investigate ways to make both defence industrial capabilities and investment/development priorities more visible in the EU/EDA context;
Analyse barriers and obstacles
To analyse CEE EDA Member States’ internal barriers and obstacles to cooperation in order to determine the main hurdles (e.g. political, administrative, legal, budgetary), preventing the CEE EDA Member States’ defence industries from engaging more effectively in defence cooperation in general, and cooperative programmes in particular. An important outcome of this exercise would be a set of proposals for actions to overcome these barriers, be they at the national, bilateral, regional, and/or at the European level;
Identify common projects and programmes
Taking into account government and industry investment/ development priorities, to identify projects, which would match CEE EDA Member States defence industry capabilities/niches and would have potential to be linked/developed with other countries and/or major European/international players. These projects can also encompass opportunities in research and development (R&D); training and exercise; maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
Investigate ways to increase capacity building
To investigate ways how to boost CEE EDA Member States’ and their defence industry capacity to engage in concrete projects and programmes, especially looking at means of better educating and training people working and/or earmarked for working in national and international armament cooperation, so that they could attain a better understanding of mechanisms of European armaments cooperation (frameworks, stakeholders, tools and processes), as well as its benefits and challenges.
Undertake practical capacity building activities
After the initial phase of stocktaking industrial capabilities, analysing barriers and obstacles for defence cooperation, as well as identifying potential capacity building measures the objective is to launch several practical capacity building initiatives for CEE EDA Members States.
The “balanced defence industry” is about ensuring coherent development of the EDTIB across Europe. It is particularly pertinent for those smaller EDA Member States with limited defence industrial capacity which seekmore engagement with major arms producing countries in the EU at both government and industry level.
The EDA addressed this issue first by conducting an internal analysis on the specificities of the CEE EDA Member States and their defence industries, which was finalised in April 2014. This analysis revealed, inter alia, that:
The CEE EDA Member States lack a firm grasp of the specificities of the defence industry/market;
- CEE EDA Member States tend to have a low cost, high quality skilled and qualified labour, coupled with a high quality science and engineering base. Yet, their ability to access the supply chain of major arms producers under normal conditions, is low;
- CEE EDA Member States’ products are mainly components. Platform- and system-level products are centred largely around the (upgraded) legacy equipment from the Soviet era;
- CEE EDA Member States’ R&D and procurement rules are perceived as too complex and rigid to allow meaningful engagement with defence industry;
- There is little systematic and continuous application of defence industry policies, including support of international programmes and export ventures;
- There is limited understanding of the frameworks, stakeholders, tools and processes of international co-operation, prevailing among major arms producers, as well as international organisations/institutions, EDA and NATO included.
As a follow up to the internal analysis, EDA has carried out a series of meetings and workshops, involving defence ministries and industry representatives of CEE Member States to help identify barriers to cooperation and potential response strategies. A dedicated study was launched in May 2015. The Final Report of the study was delivered in January 2016.
The study contains four main elements in line with the objectives of this project. The first is the barriers to cooperation and capacity building opportunities centred around 18 identified barriers and obstacles to cooperation and ten capacity building opportunities. The second element is the mapping of industrial capabilities and opportunities for cooperation. The third element is the correlation between demand and supply, that is, the demand for equipment and the related industrial capability present in the region, to identify in total 62 opportunities for cooperation. The areas with the highest correlation include: light armoured vehicles (e.g. APCs, IFVs, protected trucks), C4ISTAR systems, CBRN defence capabilities, air surveillance radars, weapons-locating radars and control, and artillery (fixed or self-propelled). The fourth, and the last, main element of the study is a set of recommendations focused on areas where EDA can take action and achieve positive impact on CEE countries, as well as other Member States.
These recommendations include: developing an instrument/mechanism to provide tailored expertise on demand to both CEE governments and industries (e.g. on defence industry policy or collaborative programmes); supporting capacity building in CEE countries through education and training modules in specific areas (e.g. procurement, IPRs); structuring the on-going dialogue with CEE governments and industry; and identifying a pilot collaborative programme, which could be undertaken by interested CEE countries to enhance interoperability among CEE countries and their skills and competences through “learning by doing”.
While the first two objectives of this project (e.g. stocktaking industrial defence capabilities/capacities, analysing barriers and obstacles) were largely achieved through the study, the work on the two remaining goals (e.g. identifying common projects and programmes, investigating ways to increase capacity building) is on-going.
After the discussion with CEE pMS on the way ahead it was decided to proceed with a first practical initiative on Improved Armaments Cooperation in CEE Member States. Course on Defence Procurement Cooperation will be established under the leadership of Czech Republic with the support of EDA. The course will be adapted to the specifics of the of CEE countries and aiming at increasing regional cooperation capacity.
Every contribution to the EDTIB counts. The CEE EDA Member States and their defence industries, have the potential to become more active and visible in European defence cooperation, and to embrace the European Council Conclusions, under the heading of a “balanced access to the EDTIB”. Without a strong EDTIB, Europe will not have the capacities and skills needed to develop, sustain and deploy defence capabilities. This would lead to increased EU dependencies, and a resulting loss of freedom of action. It would also have an adverse impact on European endeavours towards better integration, and interoperability.