High-level conference in Helsinki: How to make the most of the European Defence Fund?

  • October 3, 2019

October 3, 2019 - The President of the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) and CEO of Dassault Aviation, Mr Eric Trappier, today held a keynote address at the occasion of the opening of a high-level conference on the European Defence Fund (EDF) in Helsinki. Antti Kaikkonen, Minister of Defence of Finland, had opened the conference with his welcoming remarks followed by a keynote speech by Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs before Mr Trappier took the floor.  The two-day conference is organised as part of the official programme during the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU. It brings together more than 200 experts from EU institutions and agencies, Member States, research institutes and industry to discuss among others the priorities of the EDF, how to cover the gap between defence research and development and what the EDF can offer to make most out of Artificial Intelligence applications. 

In the morning before the kick-off of the high-level conference, ASD organised, together with the Association of Finnish Defence and Aerospace Industries (AFDA), a B2B matchmaking workshop for companies from all over the EU interested in participating in common projects within the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP).

In his keynote address, Mr Trappier first of all thanked Commissioner Bieńkowska and the European Commission as a whole for their work to move forward defence issues at the European level and expressed his wish for the next Commission to keep up this high level of ambition.   In this context, he  elaborated that via the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and EDIDP for the first time ever “EU money has been mobilised, to support the defence sector” and that “these investments have already inspired new cooperation among industry, bringing together companies of all size from across the EU”. He underlined that “boosting collaborative research and development is crucial for industry’s competitiveness and capacity to support our armed forces with cutting-edge technology” and that “ASD has therefore fully supported these initiatives and actively accompanied their preparation.”


Boosting collaborative research and development is crucial for industry’s competitiveness and capacity to support our armed forces with cutting-edge technology

ASD President, Eric Trappier

Mr Trappier called upon the new Commission, Member States and the European Parliament to make the legislative finalisation of the EDF a priority and to “adopt the EDF regulation as soon as possible to ensure timely implementation as of 2021”. With regards to the content of EDF work programmes that still have to be defined, the ASD President emphasised that “if the EDF is to make a difference for industry and armed forces, it must support projects that really matter in terms of technology and capabilities.” 

Mr Trappier continued his remarks highlighting that “EDF is a genuine EU programme and therefore by definition inclusive, i.e. open to participants from all Member States”. Involving innovative and competitive companies from all over the EU into European projects was therefore also in the interest of prime contractors. He furthermore pointed to the need for supply chains that are both cross-border and competitive. 

In his conclusion, ASD President stated that “a lot has been achieved over the last three years, but we are still only at the beginning”. In reference to the EU’s Global Strategy, Mr Trappier stressed that “Europe needs the freedom to decide and to act which would imply a certain level of strategic autonomy at least for critical capabilities and technologies”. In this context, “the EDF can and must play an important role. It is often said and written that the EDF is a potential game changer – let’s all work together that it becomes a real game changer!”

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