The European Commission has recently set up a high level group of politicians, academics, think tankers and CEOs from research technology organisations and defence industry to advise on how the EU can support defence research programmes relevant to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
Working on a tasking from the December 2013 European Council, the European Defence Agency is bringing its expertise to this work strand through the organisation of workshops with the Commission and the discussion of modalities related to the future Pilot Project on CSDP Research.
The High-level Group is chaired by Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska and supported by the High Representative, Commission Vice-President and Head of the European Defence Agency Federica Mogherini – who has been represented by EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq in the Group of Personalities. It is expected to make recommendations for a long-term vision for EU-funded CSDP-related defence research in support of European defence cooperation.
While the Group will report in full in early 2016, it offers now the following considerations as a preliminary contribution in the run up to the June 2015 European Council.
Official Statement by the Group of Personalities on defence research
The EU's security role and the need for a strong EDTIB
To ensure its long-term security, the EU and its Member States need political will and determination underpinned by a broad set of relevant instruments, including strong and modern military capabilities. These will enable the EU to live up to its responsibilities as a security provider and to be a relevant and reliable partner at global level. Investing today in future-oriented defence research programmes is crucial to developing the capabilities that will be required tomorrow.
It is widely recognised that Europe needs to retain robust military capabilities in its Member States, which, however, can no longer afford to sustain a full range of defence industrial assets on a purely national basis. Years of defence spending cuts by EU countries risk producing a net loss of combined military and industrial capabilities. And while defence-related research is pivotal in maintaining the technological edge that ensures military advantage, European investment in defence R&D has declined by more than 29 % since 2006 – and by more than 27 % in R&T.
The European defence industry needs therefore to become more integrated and more sustainable in order to maintain critical mass and global competitiveness, to remain an equal and attractive partner internationally, and to generate the key defence technologies needed to ensure Europe’s long-term operational autonomy. A common understanding of the capability-driven research areas that should be developed cooperatively - and of the ways to identify and select them - will be required, taking into account all existing processes at EU level.
The role of future collaborative programmes in addressing capability gaps
Cooperative defence research programmes will clearly be essential for sustaining and fostering key military capabilities in Europe and addressing well-known shortfalls. Currently, however, only 8% of national defence budgets are spent on collaborative projects.
The Preparatory Action and its follow-on programme can contribute significantly to the development of crucial military capabilities for Europe and help ensure the sustainability and competitiveness of the European defence industrial sector - from prime contractor level through to SMEs - thus also underpinning the Union’s long-term security.
The Preparatory Action should therefore pave the way to a substantial and ambitious CSDP-related defence research programme in the next EU multi-annual funding framework, thus making a quantitative and qualitative difference to the current situation and demonstrating the added value of a permanent EU scheme.
Key principles for EU-funded CSDP-related defence research
The future research programme must be clearly defence-oriented, coherent with and complementary to existing national defence research efforts, and must take fully into account the unique aspects of the defence sector in its governance principles and modalities.
It must help address specific capability needs stemming from the evolving security environment, avoid duplications, and catalyse collaborative research efforts.
The Preparatory Action needs to properly test the effectiveness and relevance of EU-funded defence research and the appropriateness of the proposed governance model. As such, it should be endowed with appropriate and credible means – preferably up to the maximum budget allowed by the legal framework.
- Fernando Abril-Martorell, CEO Indra;
- Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs;
- Antoine Bouvier, CEO MBDA;
- Håkan Buskhe, CEO of Saab;
- Paul de Krom, former secretary of State for Social Affairs and Employment, President and CEO of TNO, a Dutch organization of applied scientific research
- Tom Enders, CEO Airbus Group;
- Michael Gahler, MEP, EP rapporteur for Commission's communication on defence;
- Elisabeth Guigou, President of the Foreign Affairs Commission in l'Assamblée Nationale, former Minister of European Affairs, of Justice and of Employment;
- Ian King, Chief Executive BAE Systems;
- Bogdan Klich, former Minister of Defence, member of Polish Senate;
- Mauro Moretti, CEO Finmeccanica;
- Reimund Neugebauer, President of the "Frauenhofer-Gesellschaft", application-oriented research organisation;
- Arndt Schoenemann, Managing Director of Liebherr-Aerospace Lindenberg GmbH, Chairman of ASD Supply Chain and SME Group;
- Teija Tiilikainen, Director of Finnish Institute of International Affairs;
- Nick Witney, former EDA Chief Executive, senior policy fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).