Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marks a paradigm shift in European security, threatening the rules-based international order and bringing large-scale war back to the continent. As a consequence, Europe must urgently enhance its capacity to defend its citizens and values. The European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) is crucial for developing, producing and supporting the equipment that underpins this capacity.
Against this background, ASD advocates for a truly transformational longterm European defence industrial strategy that makes the EDTIB fit for the new security environment. Such a strategy should include political, financial and regulatory measures and address the following priorities:
Enhance capacity to deliver
The EDTIB must be able to deliver the equipment that our armed forces depend on to fulfil their mission, at all times and under any circumstances.
The challenge is twofold: rapidly enhance industrial output to meet the current spike in demand, and subsequently ensure an appropriate level of enduring industrial capacity and responsiveness.
Looking further forwards, more emphasis needs to be put on maintaining industrial capacities as a strategic contingency, so that production can be ramped up quickly and sustained when needed. This requires nothing less than a quantum leap in the EDTIB’s capacity to deliver and can only succeed with coordination and support at the EU level.
Reduce critical dependencies
Political, military and technological dependencies are closely intertwined. Europe needs an appropriate level of strategic autonomy in order to fulfil its responsibilities as a reliable and credible international security partner. In this context, the European defence industry has a crucial role to play, since it develops key technologies that underpin Europe’s freedom to decide and to act. It is therefore an essential European security interest to sustain and nurture an industrial and technological base in Europe that underpins key strategic military capabilities. In today’s geopolitical environment, this must imply technological sovereignty in critical areas, resilience of defence supply chains and security of supply of critical components and raw materials.
Strengthen technological excellence
Decisions on short-term needs must not undermine long-term objectives. Robust investment in defence R&D, at both national and EU level, is necessary to enhance technological sovereignty in critical areas and ensure operational superiority against potential adversaries. Defence industries constantly push the boundaries of technology and generate spin-offs that reinforce the competitiveness of other sectors, such as civil aviation and space. At the same time, advances in many technologies essential for enhancing defence capabilities, such as AI or cyber, are now driven more by commercial sectors than defence. It is therefore crucial to support all technologies that matter for Europe’s sovereignty and to foster synergies across the traditional divide between the defence and civil domains.
Ensure appropriate funding and finance
Making the EDTIB fit for the new strategic environment is a longterm endeavour and will require commensurate financial resources. It is therefore crucial to ensure enduring defence investment at national and EU level. Logically this must also mean considerably increasing the budget-line for security and defence in EU Multiannual Financial Frameworks. Equally important is the facilitation of defence companies’ access to private finance. To achieve this objective, the EU and Member States should take political and regulatory measures that ensure the shift to sustainable finance does not negatively impact defence companies. There is no sustainability without security, and no security without the defence industry.