Whitney & the EDA React to CSIS Report on European Defense Industry
The EU’s European Defense Agency (EDA) has an ambitious agenda to rationalize Europe’s defense industry and open up arms procurement, even as observers note Europe’s steadily-declining military capabilities that are trending toward a crisis point of relevance.
DID recently covered a major defence-related report from the transatlantic CSIS think-tank, and EDA head Nick Whitney’s response to that report helps underline the overall thrust of his agency’s efforts. As he noted, in the midst of a generally positive reaction to CSIS’ document:
“…governments and industries have distinct roles – and things generally go along better if both parties remember that. The EDA is a creation of governments – so, in addressing the industrial and technological aspects of European defence integration as you have asked me to do, I shall concentrate on some of the challenges that I believe European defence ministries – my shareholders – are faced with.”
DID has summarized these seven challenges as follows; the full entries can be found in the text of Whitney’s speech:
- The first is to place the right requirements on industry.
- Second, governments have an obligation to try to point the way ahead.
- Third, governments must pool their requirements.
- Fourth, if consolidation on the demand side can help consolidation on the supply side, then we also need a consolidated market in which demand and supply can meet.
- Fifth, though harnessing the power of the market will be helpful, it is not enough.
- Sixth, European defence ministries will have to pay increasing attention to the balance between what they spend on personnel – currently more than half their defence budgets – and what they spend on investment – currently about one quarter.
- Seventh, and arguably most important, governments face a major challenge in the fields of defence research and technology. Actually, you can broaden that out – Europe faces a major challenge in preserving and developing its technology base across the piece.
Whitney began his wrap-up with these thoughts:
“The key point I suggest, which Europeans need to recognise, and then to act upon, is that if we wish to preserve a globally competitive defence technological and industrial base in Europe, then we must invest in it; we must invest more than we currently do; and we must do more of that investment together.”
- CSIS Report (Oct 12/05) – European Defense Integration: Bridging the Gap between Strategy and Capabilities [PDF format]
- Forum Europe’s New Defence Agenda