Ms. Arnould spoke on the 23 April at the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ms. Arnould exchanged views with the Committee Members on pooling and sharing in the Defence Sector, specifically the role of the European Defence Agency.
Ms. Arnould explained that the last two Ministerial Steering Boards (30 November and 22nd March) were real successes, and that concrete actions show that cooperation in key capability shortfalls, such as air-to-air refueling, medical support, training, maritime surveillance is working well. Ms. Arnould highlighted the large number of Member States involved in a wide spectrum of projects and presented how EDA is adding value to the process: in preparing the ground for long term pooling & sharing initiatives, on save and reinvest – to facilitate the reinvestment of savings in defence - and on the identification of new opportunities.
She pointed that new initiatives might rise in support areas such as training, maintenance, logistical support, but also in areas in support of front-line capabilities, such as Air-to-Air Refueling, smart munitions, and Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).
Ms. Arnould emphasized EDA as a unique place for exchange of best practices and cooperation, and as an ideal expertise (financial, legal, technical) platform and interlocutor with industry. She also referred to building complementarity with NATO, through a continuous dialogue with NATO International Staff and Allied Command Transformation.
On the long term, Ms. Arnould said that the NATO Chicago Summit is a critical milestone, but not the end of the story. She said that, through EDA, significant EU deliverables to demonstrate our intention to be a more capable security provider. She called for a dynamic medium and longer term approach, as pooling & sharing is a long term ambition to sustain European efforts through building more confidence and more synergies. She said that pooling & sharing initiatives are expected to influence national planning processes to bring more coherence and more cooperation – without infringing national prerogatives. Still regarding national approaches, Ms. Arnould noted how confidence is a critical component of pooling & sharing.
Synergy, she said, has also to be at the core of the process, to exploit the full potential for complementarity between defence and EU policies. She pointed that the Defence sector has some specificities, but should also be considered from a macroeconomic perspective: from jobs to innovation, from growth to competitiveness. She also noted how important a shared civilian-military approach is, for instance when it comes to the optimization of the European sky, or on Maritime Surveillance, bring military and civilian assets for the benefit of Europe as a whole.
On Market issues, Ms. Arnould said EDA is tailored to interface with the Commission, to monitor the activities and identify the interests of the defence community. EDA, she said, has a large expertise in security of supply and Key Industrial Capabilities. The European Defence Technological and Industrial Base Strategy review is now taking place, she added.
Underlining that “financial constraints will make cooperation in defence a necessity, not a choice anymore, but an imperative”, Ms. Arnould said “pooling and sharing can only succeed with continuous political impulse. The Parliament’s role is important in this regard.” She further called for continuous “dialogue, expertise, influence”.