Economically: Defence industries are major contributors to the European economy with a turnover of €100 billion/year and €1.4 million highly skilled employees. Moreover, they generate spin-off technologies which reinforce also the competitiveness of other sectors such as aviation, space and electronics.
Technologically: Defence industries constantly work at the cutting edge of technology and push the boundaries of what is possible. They also integrate civilian technologies into complex systems and adapt them to defence specificities.
Strategically: Europe needs to assume its responsibilities in the world. This necessitates credible defence capabilities and the ability to use them when it is deemed necessary. To ensure an appropriate level of strategic autonomy, at least certain key capabilities must be developed on-shore in Europe. This can only be achieved if we have a world-class European defence industry.
A Challenging Environment
For many years, European defence has suffered from severe underinvestment. Over the last decade, defence budgets in the EU have decreased by €2 billion/year to a historical low of 1.4% of GDP in 2015. At the same time market fragmentation in Europe leads to costly duplication of capabilities and expenditures.
However, there have been encouraging developments recently: in 2016, the High Representative presented the Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy and its Implementation Plan on Security and Defence. More recently, the European Commission adopted its Defence Action Plan. In parallel, the EU and NATO committed to strengthening their cooperation. Implemented properly, these initiatives can make a difference and contribute to a more secure Europe.
The ASD Defence Business Unit strives to ensure that the development of European policies and initiatives support the European Defence Technology and Industrial Base (EDTIB), by endorsing commonly agreed recommendations to EU policy-makers and key stakeholders. The Defence Business Unit comprises four Working Groups, covering two sectoral areas - air and land - and two horizontal focuses, research and export controls. It is chaired by Kai Horten from ESG and vice-chaired by Angelo Pansini from Leonardo and Henrik Petersson from SAAB. A number of specific Task Forces cover Defence Procurement, the Future Program for Research and Development (EDRP), the Financial Aspects of defence and NATO.