Monday

21st Jun 2021

Europe's armies 'still in cold war' warns EU arms chief

European armies have not adapted to modern warfare and need better technology, the head of the EU's arms agency has warned.

In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, Nick Witney, head of the European Defence Agency agency created in June this year to strengthen the EU's military capabilities, said, "European armies are not adapted to the modern world, to its conflicts, to its new threats. On the whole, they are still in the cold war period".

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  • Ministers agreed to set up the agency last June (Photo: Dutch EU Presidency)

Rather than focusing on tanks, European armies need more high-tech equipment, such as effective communication tools and analytical equipment, urged Mr Witney.

Closing the gap with the US in terms of arms technology is not about spending more, but spending more efficiently, he said.

Mr Witney also called for greater liberalisation of the European armaments market if EU firms are to compete with their US rivals.

Describing himself as "very much in favour" of market liberalisation, Mr Witney said, "defence markets are essentially national at the moment, with significant state aid in many countries. But no member state has the means to keep its industries alive like this".

"European companies are up against big American groups with colossal budgets. Compared to the Americans, the Europeans are underweight. They need a market on a Continental scale to be profitable", he concludes.

The European Commission is also in favour of opening up Europe's defence markets.

It suggested recently in a paper on 'Defence Procurement' that products which are not intended for specifically military purposes can no longer be left out of normal procurement rules when purchased by the military.

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