Addressing key European Defence Technology and Industrial Dependencies (EDTID) has been identified by the defence, security and space community as a topic of strategic importance for securing European freedom of action. It is an issue of relevance to all of the four major strategic documents implementing the wider objectives of EDA with a particular importance for the European Defence Technology Industrial Base (EDTIB) Strategy and the European Defence Research & Technology (EDRT) Strategy. Consequently EDA’s work on this issue is addressed jointly by the R&T and I&M Directorates.
The EDTIB strategy states approved by the EDA Steering Board on 14 May 2007 states inter alia that “… the EDTIB must…be more closely integrated with the wider, non-defence European technological and industrial base, with less European dependence on non-European sources for key defence technologies.” It goes on to say;
“We do not envision this EDTIB of the future as a “fortress Europe….but we recognise that the problem of accessing the US defence market, and of establishing balanced technology exchange across the Atlantic, make it natural and necessary for Europeans to cooperate more closely to ensure the future of their own DTIB.”
In the context of work addressing European industrial capabilities for preservation or development the Steering Board on 26 May 2008 agreed that work on identifying key industrial capabilities should commence with Future Air Systems (FAS); put emphasis on supply chain weaknesses and tasked the Agency “to continue dialogue with industry on dependencies on non-EU sources of supply particularly in the FAS sector.”
The EDRT Strategy endorsed by the EDA Steering Board on 10 November 2008 highlightsthe need for an approach which harmonises both ‘Ends’ and ‘Means’; inter alia recognising the need to select the technologies to which investment should be directed to, in order to best serve European military and industrial ambitions, “The reinforcement of the EDTIB to satisfy needs for autonomy and operational sovereignty”.
This work is proceeding in consultation with key stakeholders, e.g. European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission, recognizing the potential for partnership. Awareness of the importance of addressing dependency in the defence industrial base has improved and some initial analysis has been undertaken. The EDA is assisting with R&T and industrial base oriented studies which focus on strategic technical and industrial non-dependence issues. The shaping of an overall harmonized European perspective which integrates the Member States views is critical in order to promote the work towards a common European cross domain strategy.
Successful sectorial experience has the potential to be exploited for the development of a European strategic approach (e.g. the ESA critical space components mapping process). There is also the potential to build on existing EDA including work already done in previous studies. To respond to the growing challenge of “dependence” in the EDTIB, the control and management of critical supply chains is fundamental. This can only be achieved by strategic investment and innovation in key enabling and cutting edge technologies, as well as in sustainable production supply chains.
The question of dependencies was also one of five identified areas within EDA’s Ammunition pilot test case. In this context, the EDA launched a study to identify current and future non-EU dependencies, including technologies, industrial capabilities, skills, know-how and also market related dependencies to propose actions to safeguard that Europe’s identified critical competencies in the Ammunition sector will remain available.
A year-long study, conducted by an industrial consortium, was finished in May 2012. The purpose was to map and analyse European defence technical and industrial dependences, develop a methodology for dependence management and identify a set of priority actions. This was in the context of the ability of European member states to deliver future military capability. Two case studies on air platforms, UAS and helicopters, were selected to illustrate what dependency means in practice and the experience of other government and industrial areas was examined for best practice. To achieve the overarching goal of the study sought to develop a methodology for dependence management and to identify a set of priority act. As a conclusion from the EDTID study and taking account of industry initiatives, EDA has proposed a number of actions including consideration of dedicated R&T activities in the area of innovative and critical UAS payload technologies, architectures and supply chains.
An Ammunition non-EU Dependencies study delivered in May 2012 recommending specific programs and initiatives to mitigate non-EU dependencies.