Wednesday

24th Apr 2019

European Parliament approves opening of defence market

  • Defence equipment should be purchased more freely and with better coordination among EU member states. (Photo: SHAPE)

The EU moved one step closer to a single market in the area of defence on Tuesday (16 December), with the European Parliament approving a commission proposal aimed at harmonising and simplifying national rules in this area.

"Today's approval brings us a decisive step forward towards setting up a true European defence equipment market," Guenter Verheugen, EU commissioner responsible for enterprise and industry and one of the initiators of this directive said after the vote.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The current Nice treaty provides that internal market rules are not applied to the defence market, allowing member states to exclude defence contracts from EU procurement rules.

Moreover, 27 national licensing procedures make transfers of defence material between countries difficult, as they differ in terms of requirements. The licensing rules also apply to the export of defence related products such as spare parts or even army boots.

Applying heterogeneous and disproportionate national licensing systems is hampering the security of supply between member states and costs businesses over €400 million a year, a commission statement reads.

The proposal drafted by German green MEP Heide Ruhle and endorsed by the plenum on Tuesday provides a European system of licences which will be uniform and applicable throughout the 27 member states. Licences will nonetheless be granted at the national level, with governments still free to impose sanctions if the contractor fails to respect the licensing conditions.

The parliament also added some extra provisions to guarantee the security of transfers, notably with respect to the final recipients of products or components, in order to ensure that arms do not reach conflict zones.

The market fragmentation was also a problem identified in the recently reviewed EU security strategy, endorsed by heads of states and governments at their 11-12 December meeting.

"Restructuring of the European defence technological and industrial base, in particular around centres of European excellence, avoiding duplication, in order to ensure its soundness and its competitiveness, is a strategic and economic necessity. In this connection, the European Council calls for early finalisation of the Directives on intra-Community transfer of defence goods and on defence procurement," the summit conclusions read.

Strategy for French political reasons

While the directive was a "step in the right direction", it was still "a long way from having an EU market for defence equipment", with national procurement rules still remaining "very defensive", Giles Merritt, head of a Brussels based think tank on security and defence, the Security and Defence Agenda, told EUobserver.

Mr Merritt also pointed out that the reviewed security strategy endorsed by member states was not designed as a "great milestone", but rather to confirm the approach of the last five years.

He called for a "new budgeting mechanism for burden sharing", since at the moment Great Britain and France were not only contributing with most troops to EU missions, but also paying for the costs of the missions.

He was sympathetic to the idea floated by some EU officials that the security strategy could have waited one year longer, after US president Barack Obama was sworn in and the NATO 60 anniversary summit would have taken place in Strasbourg/Kehl.

"Practical politics must have driven them into doing it during the French presidency," Mr Merritt said.

Brussels moves to open EU defence industry market

The European Commission has proposed a package of measures to open up the European defence industry market, designed to increase the efficiency of Europe's defence spending and ultimately to boost military capabilities.

MEPs back opening of market in defence goods

The European Parliament threw its weight on Wednesday behind a draft bill aimed at making public procurements for defence goods and services more transparent and open.

Weber vow to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat

Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right EPP political group, has vowed to block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The pledge comes amid a new threat from the CEO of Nord Stream 2 to sue the European Union.

Opinion

'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem

The time for genuine lobby regulation and a stop to the risk of corporate capture of EU policy-making is now. It is a question of survival and must be a priority for the next head of the European Commission.

EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

EU institutions want Facebook to relax its rules, to allow pan-European political groups to carry out EU-wide campaigns. Facebook has yet to implement the demands - posing questions on the extent to which Europe relies on the US tech firm.

News in Brief

  1. Political deadlock looms at Sunday's Spanish election
  2. Le Pen in Copenhagen for talks with new key ally
  3. Trump to meet May and Macron on Europe visit in June
  4. Johnson's sister to run in EU elections on new list
  5. Weber pledges to 'block' Nord Stream 2 as president
  6. UK warns migrants not to cross 'dangerous' Channel
  7. Austria's FPO publishes racist poem
  8. Spanish party leaders spar over Catalonia

Opinion

'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem

The time for genuine lobby regulation and a stop to the risk of corporate capture of EU policy-making is now. It is a question of survival and must be a priority for the next head of the European Commission.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Weber vow to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  2. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  3. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections
  4. Ukraine comic-president invited to EU capitals
  5. Trump's Israel plan to 'test' EU resolve
  6. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  7. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  8. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us