This week, the Group of Personalities issued its report on the Preparatory Action for CSDP-related research. Convened by Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the group consists of key personalities from European industry, government, the European Parliament and academia. In its report, the group now made recommendations for a long-term vision for EU-funded CSDP-related research which can boost European defence cooperation.
These recommendations address the overall scope and governance of future EU-funded CSDP research and highlight possible collaboration and coordination mechanisms. The overarching goal of the Preparatory Action and CSDP-related research is to create a framework that would facilitate a collaborative approach to defence among the Member States.
Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA) and an alternate to High Representative, Vice President and Head of the Agency Federica Mogherini, in the group, underlines, “The Preparatory Action on CSDP-related research is a pivotal instrument in support of Europe’s strategic autonomy: it will reinforce our collective military freedom of action by fostering defence cooperation. The establishment of such a European instrument can contribute to translating our level of ambition into action. The Preparatory Action can become a catalyst for European cooperation in key capability areas by breaking down the barriers and overcoming the disincentives to cooperation that exist today.”
Against the background of shrinking defence R&T budgets with negative long-term effects on capability development and industrial outlook, the report acknowledges that an EU-funded Defence Research Programme (EDRP), complementary to national R&D, may help fostering cooperation, ensuring European security and supporting the European defence technological and industrial base.
In the report, the Group of Personalities highlight the importance of close cooperation between governments (as sole customers), industries (as main suppliers) and R&T organisations for the success of the Preparatory Action. At the same time, the report describes the EDA as “the only EU body with the mandate to define collective defence capability and research priorities and support defence cooperation”. It is “therefore the most logical and appropriate vehicle to identify and review priorities in this domain”.
Commenting on this last point, Jorge Domecq says, “The Preparatory Action combined with the active role of EDA upstream, meaning in its preparation, and downstream, in its implementation, could lead to a more systematic cooperation in Europe.”