On 23 April the European Defence Agency presented to the Steering Board a number of proposals in preparation of the European Council discussing defence topics at the end of this year.
The proposals and actions concentrate around three clusters as defined by the European Council in December 2012:
- increase the effectiveness, visibility and impact of CSDP;
- enhance the development of defence capabilities; and
- strengthen Europe's defence industry.
EDA has been active across these three clusters; it proposes, on top of its Pooling & Sharing projects, in particular Air-to-Air Refuelling, satellite communications and SESAR, to the Steering Board a number of actions for support to operations; the launch of dual-use “Pioneer” projects, initially in the areas of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and Cyber Defence; technology non-dependence, as well as an action plan on SMEs.
a) Pioneer Projects
RPAS support military and civil activities alike. They thus offer the potential for a comprehensive European approach, in coordination with the European Commission, including in air traffic insertion (regulatory), technologies, platforms and use of space systems.
Cyber Defence. EDA is developing ad hoc projects in the area of multinational cyber defence training, deployable cyber defence kits for headquarters, and research and technology. The aim is to launch these in autumn 2013, based on the EU Cyber Security Strategy and acknowledging the complementary activities of other actors in cyber defence, including ESA for space segments. To this end, EDA has established liaison arrangements with the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. EDA is developing a roadmap for Cyber Defence technologies, closely coordinated with civil cyber security research, to address Member States’ future ad hoc cooperative investments.
b) Technology Non-Dependence
EDA is developing a concept and list of Critical Defence Technologies identifying technologies that should be maintained at European level. Electronic components and new materials are clear examples. European access to critical defence technologies will be key to further securing critical technologies, security of supply and European industry’s competitiveness and innovation.
c) Action Plan on SMEs
SMEs are an important factor for innovation. They are a key enabler of future industrial competiveness: encouraging their ability to access and prosper in the defence market is a priority. EDA work has focused on developing and disseminating best practice. EDA is implementing the SME Action Plan, including how to improve information sharing on business opportunities or facilitating interaction with the European Commission.
In this regard, European Structural Funds may be used by Member States to co-fund dual-use activities in Research and Innovation. EDA will support Member States to access available EU resources for research and innovation, in line with identified technological and industrial priorities.