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Interview with Claude-France Arnould, Brussels

“I don’t think this European Council should be about philosophy.”

photo:© EDA

Europe needs collectively to raise its game in terms of critical capabilities EU Summit 2013 – Capabilities for today and tomorrow

Interview with Claude-France Arnould, CEO European Defence Agency (EDA), Brussels

Mrs Claude-France Arnould, Chief Executive Officer, European Defence Agency, Brussels, answers Editor-in-Chief Hartmut Bühl’s questions about the expected outcome of the EU Summit on defence issues to be held in December 2013.

The European: Mrs Arnould, the upcoming Defence Summit raises hopes for European defence. What are the expectations from the EDA perspective? Claude-France Arnould: The discussion among the Heads of State and Government at the forthcoming European Council is of the utmost importance for European defence. We need recognition at the highest political level that defence, considering the diversity of threats and challenges, is a priority. In view of today’s constrained financial situation, this effort for defence must be fully efficient, which implies cooperation and searching for synergies. Clearly, we cannot do “more with less”.

The European: What are the desired outcomes? Claude-France Arnould: The following three outcomes from the European Council in December would be significant. First and foremost: capabilities for today and tomorrow. This entails a commitment to major projects to address the capability shortfalls that have again been identified in recent operations. Our American partners have stated clearly that we cannot continue to count on them to provide the bulk of these key enabling capabilities. The second is investment in innovation and technology, including dual-use. To retain its strategic autonomy Europe needs to reduce its dependence when it comes to critical technologies. And third, support to industry. But let us be clear: it is not about subsidies. Everybody wants a competitive industry and fair market conditions. It is about concrete programmes, contracts with clear commitments and deadlines. Only on the basis of such perspectives can our defence actors invest in R&T. If they don’t, we Europeans could lose our technology know-how and reach a point of no return.

The European: What preparatory work has the EDA done in this regard? Claude-France Arnould: We have prepared very concrete proposals in the areas of Air-to-Air Refuelling, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Satellite Communications and Cyber

Documentation

European Parliament report on the EDTIB

(Edit/nc) In October 2013, the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) adopted the report by Michael GAHLER (EPP, DE) on the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB), in response to the Commission Communication entitled “Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector” published in July 2013. The report recalls that an operational Common Security and Defence Policy needs a strong European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB). Concerned about the reductions in defence investment, MEPs urge the Member States to reinforce European industrial cooperation with a view to ensuring, as far as possible, strategic autonomy by developing and producing efficient military and security capabilities using the most advanced technologies. The report also highlights the need to support CSDP missions through European research and development, and to maintain the excellence of this technologically innovative and efficient industry in order to ensure the technological independence of the European Union. Furthermore, the report points to the need for greater cooperation and exchange of know-how among Member States, on the one hand, and between the European Union and its key partners, on the other. MEPs underline the need for the safety and security of infrastructure and technology as well as the need to develop European ICT and cyber-security standards and to integrate them into international standards. The Commission is urged to step up efforts to build a level playing field in the defence market, limiting the use of market-distorting practices to the strict minimum of duly justified derogations. > Report: http://tinyurl.com/ode8q3c

Defence. These proposals have been included in the report for the European Council from the High Representative and Head of the Agency Catherine Ashton to President Van Rompuy. And we are presenting them to the Ministers of Defence at their November Steering Board meeting.

T he European: These are the main issues, but I believe you have other subjects of importance to present? Claude-France Arnould: We also recommend supporting research and innovation through the prioritisation of critical defence technologies and greater synergies with existing EU instruments. Another important topic we have put forward is the harmonisation of certification of military equipment, in particular, but not exclusively, aircraft, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). This will increase operational interoperability, speed up the delivery of military products and significantly reduce costs.

The European: The issues of Pooling & Sharing of capabilities and reducing the fragmentation of the defence market have been at the top of the agenda these past 12 months. In which areas are you expecting a breakthrough? Claude-France Arnould: There is agreement that the current fragmentation of demand is not sustainable. Cooperative programmes as suggested by the EDA will not only help to fill capability gaps, they will also reinvigorate European industry –again on the basis of competitiveness. Industry is ready to work together: think of the call from Cassidian, Dassault Aviation and Finmeccanica in June this year to launch a common European programme for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.

The European: The Summit might fail, or might achieve only minimum progress on the basis of the lowest common denominator. Would your advice be to create a new CSDP that avoids the mistakes of the past? Claude-France Arnould: I don’t think this European Council should be about philosophy. It has been less a matter of “mistakes” than a lack of action to follow up commitments. Nevertheless, why do we ignore the fact that since 2003 the EU has concluded significant and successful peace missions and operations contributing to stabilisation and security, in particular in the Balkans, in Georgia, against piracy in the Indian Ocean etc. The European Defence Agency was able to facilitate a number of important cooperation projects. It has made huge strides and continues to develop. What is clear, however, is that, for CSDP to continue to be a success in the future, Europe needs collectively to raise its game in terms of critical capabilities. The only way to do this is through cooperation, because Member States fully recognise that they can no longer afford the luxury of going it alone. Cooperation in defence is not necessarily a natural reflex. But we are on the right track. And with a positive push from the European Council and regular monitoring of key issues at this level, I am confident that, together, we will succeed.

The European: Mrs Arnould, thank you for this interview.