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23rd Feb 2020

EU wants stronger military industry

The European Commission on Tuesday (24 June) laid out plans on how to boost the EU’s military and defence industries.

It wants to create a single market on defence, make it more profitable, and intensify and merge research with the civil sector.

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  • Budget cuts threaten EU defences, says European commission (Photo: Defence Images)

Antonio Tajani, the EU industry commissioner, said greater defence collaboration is needed between member states to enable the EU to "adequately face its security challenges".

Tajani described the plan in terms of helping the EU pull itself out of the economic crisis.

"It is vital that the European defence industry remains a world-leading centre for manufacturing and innovation, creating highly qualified jobs and growth," he said in a statement.

The commission says budget cuts, the crisis, and a fragmented internal market are threats to the industry and the EU's overall defence capabilities.

It notes the sector in 2012 employed 400,000 people and generated a €96 billion turnover.

The 14-page plan wants to expand on 'dual-use technology', in which equipment can be used for both civilian and military objectives.

The EU's €80 billion Horizon 2020 research programme would be used to help fund dual-technology projects.

It also wants to develop a new programme to explore the potential benefits of EU-funded research projects.

Among the ideas is to create drones capable of carrying out both civil and military operations.

It wants the European Defence Agency (EDA) to prepare a "new process for developing defence and hybrid standards in Europe".

The EDA, along with the commission, would be in charge of developing standardisation and certification.

The European Aviation Safety Agency would back the EDA and commission in their efforts to converge a military certification system with the applicable civil requirements.

Another idea is to shift the "control of industrial and technological assets" away from national governments to a new system at the EU level.

Details have yet to be formulated but the commission intends to come out with a paper before the end of the year.

"While defence and security remain primarily a matter of national responsibility, more can be done to promote European co-operation," said the EU's internal market commissioner Michael Barnier.

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