Security of Supply (SoS) is a key factor in many national decisions taken by Member States. A European approach to SoS is important both for the realisation and strengthening of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) and the functioning of the European Defence Equipment Market (EDEM). SoS underpins successful collaboration between Member States.
EDA’s work on SoS is based on a pragmatic step by step approach, reaching a common understanding on and taking into account the different aspects of SoS.
The “Framework Arrangement for Security of Supply between subscribing Member States (sMS) in Circumstances of Operational Urgency” was endorsed by the EDA Steering Board in 2006. Subscribing Member States (sMS) agreed to assist and expedite each other’s contracted defence requirements, particularly in circumstances of pressing operational urgency and also exercise best efforts to increase the level of mutual confidence amongst themselves.
The EDTIB Strategy agreed by Defence Ministers in 2007 underlined that the concept of a truly European DTIB will not be realised in practice unless the Member States can be confident that increased mutual dependence for supply of defence goods and services is matched by increased mutual assurance of that supply.
Following the transposition into Member States’ national law of the Defence and Security Procurement Directive 2009/81/EC on the awards of contracts in the fields of defence and security and the implementation of the Intra-Community Transfers Directive 2009/43/EC aiming in simplifying the terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the European Union, the EDA participating Member States deemed necessary to adapt the 2006 Framework Arrangement to this new legal framework.
In parallel, building on past experience, the Member States considered imperative to widen the scope of the Framework Arrangement to cover all types of defence acquisitions and to broaden its applicability for situations in peacetime or in crisis times, including but not limited to circumstances of operational urgency.
The updated Framework Arrangement for Security of Supply between sMS constituting an important voluntary, legally non-binding, mechanism for the Member States to enhance their mutual support and assistance on Security of Supply, was adopted by the EDA Steering Board on 19 November 2013.
On 15 May 2014 the EDA Steering Board adopted also a voluntary Code of Conduct on Prioritisation between sMS and industry, associated with the Framework Arrangement, as a means to involve defence industry in the EDA Security of Supply framework, in order to demonstrate its commitment to meet Member States enhanced Security of Supply requirements in defence procurement. Industry can sign up to this voluntary code on a case-by-case basis. Whilst doing so industry will accept that for a given contract the set of principles stipulated in the Code of Conduct will apply to ensure delivery and provision of defence equipment and services to the procuring Member State.
All 27 EDA participating Member States as well as Norway have decided to subscribe to and therefore participate in the implementation of the Framework Arrangement and the Code of Conduct on Prioritisation, highlighting the importance of Security of Supply.
EDA is currently monitoring implementation and supporting pMS in the coherent application of the Framework Arrangement and the Code of Conduct on prioritisation between sMS and industry. Such implementation will also be supported by the EDA SoS Portal created in 2011 and providing information on Member States policies and procedures connected to SoS.
In December 2013, the European Council underlined the importance of Security of Supply arrangements for the development of long-term planning and cooperation and the functioning of the internal market for defence. It called on the European Commission to develop with Member States and in cooperation with the High Representative and the EDA, a roadmap for a comprehensive EU-wide Security of Supply regime, which takes account of the globalised nature of critical supply chains.
EDA’s contribution to the SoS regime roadmap endorsed by Ministers in May 2015 showed that SoS is essentially inter-governmental in nature, and could benefit from measures to enhance trust and confidence-building at political level. On this basis, specific inter-governmental actions were endorsed. In parallel, examination of proposals of some Member States, to further strengthen European cross-border Security of Supply through enhancing trust, confidence-building and mutual support between Member States, was initiated.
On 14 November 2016, the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in its Conclusions on implementing the EU Global Strategy (EUGS) in the area of Security and Defence, called on the EDA, in close cooperation with Member States, to develop proposals to strengthen European defence cooperation by “improving Security of Supply through a holistic approach based on Member States' political commitment and existing programme/sector-specific agreements.”
The Commission’s European Defence Action Plan (EDAP), announced on 30 November 2016, states that it “supports the initiative of Member States, through the EDA, for a political commitment to facilitate transfers of defence-related and to provide mutual assistance in times of crisis”.
As a result of the work conducted in this field by the Agency together with Member States, a Member States' Political Commitment on Security of Supply was eventually adopted on 19 June 2017, by the Representatives of the Governments of EDA participating Member States convening in the Council, covering two main areas : mutual support on requests for Security of Supply support regarding critical supplies and services for defence, and facilitating and expediting defence transfers and/or transits, throughout the life cycle of the relevant defence capability. A related Questions and Answers document has been developed by the Agency with support from Member States, aiming to elaborate further on the EDA Member States’ Political Commitment on SoS.
Defence Transfers Directive 2009/43/EC
Directive 2009/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community, is considered as closely linked to Security of Supply. A better cross-border circulation of defence products that strengthens industrial cooperation and competitiveness, can have a major positive impact on Security of Supply in Europe.
National implementation of the Directive is in most cases not under the remit of Defence Ministries, but other national Ministries such as Economy, or Foreign Affairs. On this basis, the 19 October 2016 EDA Steering Board, among others, encouraged the Agency to further raise awareness of Ministries of Defence on issues pertaining to the implementation of the Defence Transfers Directive 2009/43/EC and maximise their involvement.
Differences in the scope of General Transfer Licences published by Member States in terms of defence-related products covered and diverging conditions applied to transfers of these products could hamper the implementation of Directive 2009/43/EC and the achievement of its simplification objective. Aligning national approaches as to the scope of and conditions for transfers under the GTLs published by Member States is very important. To this end, the Commission with support from Member States (representatives in the Committee established by Article 14 of Directive 2009/43/EC), has concluded development and published total 5 Recommendations on the harmonisation of the scope of and conditions for general transfer licences (for the purposes of):
- Armed forces and contracting authorities (30 November 2016);
- Certified recipients (30 November 2016);
- Repair and maintenance (19 December 2018);
- Demonstration and evaluation (19 December 2018); and finally
- Exhibition (19 December 2018).
It is noted that within Recommendations No. 3 (Repair and maintenance) and No. 4 (Demonstration and evaluation) above, a clear reference to the "Member States' Political Commitment on Security of Supply" has been included.
In view of implementation of the related EDA Steering Board tasking, the Agency is following closely Commission activities on the Directive, keeping Ministries of Defence informed on related EU-level developments.