Monday

19th Aug 2019

MEPs back opening of market in defence goods

The European Parliament threw its weight on Wednesday (14 January) behind a draft bill aimed at making public procurements for defence goods and services more transparent and open.

The EU's defence market comprises goods and services worth €91 billion a year, but only half this sum was put for tender, with Germany allowing opening competition for only two percent of the public procurements in this field, German liberal MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, author of the parliament's report told the chamber on Tuesday.

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 single market for defence products doesn't work. Innovation in this high-tech sector can't be achieved. Our forces don't get the best equipment and tax -payers' money is wasted," Mr Lambsdorff pointed out.

His draft bill, which updated and sharpened some of the commission's initial proposals, was broadly approved on Wednesday with 597 votes in favour, 69 against and 33 abstentions.

Part of a broader package aimed at opening the defence market, the directive is unlikely to come into force for another three years. Member states still need to approve it and then take up to 18 months to transpose it into national legislation and another 18 months to begin enforcement.

Internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy acknowledged that the bill "won't entail a revolution overnight, but is an important step forward in opening the defence market."

Another legislative proposal, aimed at harmonising the various national licensing systems and transfer rules in the field of defence, was adopted in December 2008.

Legal loophole for corruption

Several MEPs noted that the current legal situation allowed national governments very broad interpretation of an exemption from the internal market rules when acquiring military goods and services, but also "sensitive non-military security equipment" used by police and special forces.

"We have these two directives – transfer and public procurements – and they will ensure that there will be no squandering of public monies in this area and that we will put an end to corruption," German Socialist MEP Barbara Weiler told the house on Tuesday.

Daniel Keohane, an expert on defence industry issues with the Paris-based Institute for Security Studies told the EUobserver that the new directive would "place more of an onus on member states to explain if and why a competition is closed."

Although the principle of having more open competitions in the defence market has already been agreed by national governments, who set up a code of conduct for defence procurements three years ago, it appears the best way to enforce transparency and openness was to craft a law in this field, he explained.

EU market open to American companies

Although some MEPs would have preferred a more explicit clause allowing EU companies to be given preference over American ones, Mr Keohane pointed out that such a measure would not be backed by member states, since most of the European countries were consumers of defence goods, not producers.

"The majority of member states would prefer to have open competition, including allowing American firms to compete. The European industry is currently trying to get a foothold in the US and intensifying their relationship with American companies. So it's in their interest to ensure that the Americans have also access to the European market," Mr Keohane explained.

Last week, the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU "strongly urged" the parliament and the council to "resist efforts to create informal or formal barriers to market access."

"Open and competitive markets will encourage the formation of transnational industrial teams and will foster the development of European defence industrial capabilities," the chamber's statement reads.

European Parliament approves opening of defence market

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

EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests

The EU, in league with Canada, has spoken out on the Hong Kong protests after months of silence in what one expert called "a clear expression of support for the protesters".

Exclusive

Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings

The German former secretary-general of the European Commission held some 21 meetings which were registered in the lobby register. But no documents appeared to exist summarising what was said.

Feature

EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock

No EU country willing to open its ports for the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, with France and others turning to the European Commission for help.

Exclusive

Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings

The German former secretary-general of the European Commission held some 21 meetings which were registered in the lobby register. But no documents appeared to exist summarising what was said.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  2. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  3. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  4. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  5. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  6. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  7. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  8. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us