Are you happy with the proposed EDIDP rules and what is your take on the planned arrangement for participation of third country entities established in Europe?
The European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) that was adopted this summer is a first step. The industry represented in Brussels by ASD was mobilised from an early stage to make a useful contribution to it. From my point of view, there are two main things that are important.
Firstly, capability development. It is the main challenge of the programme and focuses on two key issues for Europe: strategic autonomy and competitiveness of the industry.
Secondly, the funding put in place by the EU in the framework of this programme. It adds to the existing resources of the Member States and, therefore, is a tool capable of providing a leverage effect. During the negotiations on this programme, Member States and the European Union endeavoured to align the objectives of autonomy and competitiveness with legal reality and industrial constraints.
As regards EDIDP, thanks to the efforts made by all, a consensus was finally found on a framework and measures, particularly in terms of eligibility, to guarantee that European interests are met.
Since the defence sector is specific, additional progress will have to be made on the EDF which is not yet agreed. For example, there is the question of a 100% coverage of all costs which would match the conditions of our main competitors. There is one point that is central for all European initiatives: European money must primarily go to the European industry, i.e to actors whose policy is not defined or constrained by considerations expressed outside the EU.
Member States recently approved new EU Capability Development Priorities as part of the revised CDP. What’s the European defence industry’s view on them?
Do you feel industry is ready and capable of taking them up and delivering the required capabilities? The EU, which has to deal with new strategic challenges and must meet new requirements for the protection of its citizens, needs a clear roadmap in terms of capability priorities. From this point of view, the process enabling Member States’ convergence on capability development priorities (CDP) represents an important step forward. The CDP thus already provides a useful reference framework: a global picture of Member States’ capability needs in generic priorities areas. Industry has developed very good working relations with all EU institutions. In the light of recent developments in the field of EU capabilities, industry is of course prepared, with the support of Member States, to strengthen its contribution in this domain.
As the President of the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), I am fully confident about the European industry’s capabilities: it has the means and skills required to meet the European capability challenges, including through the robust network of its main Primes and the small and medium-sized industries and enterprises which form an envied ecosystem in the world.
Europe still lacks joint defence programmes and investments. What, in your view, can and should be done to stimulate more cooperation?
Europe is making a big shift in defence. The past decade has been marked by a period of under-investment in this area. We see an evolution now because European countries are changing their policies and are actively thinking about the modernisation of their defence systems. Undoubtedly, this new situation offers new perspectives and opportunities. So, I do believe that cooperation in Europe will develop. Nevertheless, it can neither be decreed nor become a dogma, particularly in the defence field. It must be based on political will, mutual trust and shared interests. It must also increasingly meet the needs of efficiency in economic and financial terms. It is difficult to draw the profile of a successful cooperation. In the defence sector, cooperation first must ensure that the operational contract of our armed forces is fulfilled. Then, it seems to me necessary that the cooperation meets the main following criteria: – be an expression of the common operational needs avoiding as much as possible over-specification; – rely on a firm and long-term budgetary commitment by Member States; – be driven by an efficient state/industrial governance able to take decisions and make compromises; – have an export policy defined upstream of the programme; - and rely on a division of labour based on competencies and efficiency rather than considerations of geographical fair return.