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European Defence Industry Summit

The participants of the European Defence Industry Summit engaged in an intense debate over the perspectives and challenges in internal and external dimension within a new framework of activation of Lisbon Treaty clause on Common Defence. The European defence industries have already presented more than 50 projects for approval of the EU bodies and implementation in the nearest future, however they are just at the beginning of the synergy process.

At the Summit, taking place in d’Egmont Palace in Brussels on December 5, the experts, industry representatives and EU civil servants, NATO officials and press debated on possible ways to develop the endeavour to respond to citizens increasing concerns with the security, and their expectation for the EU protection from new threats. The participants underlined that NATO remains the bedrock of the European security, however the EU industries have a new role within latest political developments summarised in decisions of the European Commission and Council to create Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence #PESCO.

The industries confirmed their willingness to back up the EU ambition to stay a global player in decades to come and an efficient security provider for its citizens, supplying European “soft” power with the latest models of technology and equipment.

In spite of the good will and enthusiasm about new developments, the participants indicated they can not ignore the pitfalls on the way to unite the fractured into multiple, often duplicating each other national undertakings. The closure of entire branches of national industries inevitably leads to implications on labor market, thus loss of jobs, confronting politicians with uneasy choice to face discontent of the losers in next elections.

The participants also confirmed they prepare, as the other industries, for the consequences of #Brexit, which attracted keen attention during the debate. The speakers underlined the sensitivity of the financial matters in general, they also pointed that without an adequate financial support from the EU  the majority of plans would remain projects on paper without a chance of being implemented.

The speakers of the Summit reflected on the decision of the European Commission to commit common funds for defence related activities, however the finances alone, according to the speakers, would not bring to live the ambitious programme of co-operation.

The experts pointed at new threats, and a profound need of a deeper level of confidence in information sharing between the EU member-states to overcome the current fragmentation of industries. Answers to modern type of threats lie in development of technologies and science to determine success of military operation at present, and in the future – the cyber-space is increasingly a matter of concern. Sharing of knowledge and innovation stays a one of the effective methods of reaching defence industries synergy.

Confronted with the new threats the industries confirmed the paramount significance of the development of the science and research, including artificial intelligence, robotics, IT technologies, and quantum computing. As the experts underlined, the optimal military decisions can be taken based on analysis of correct and full data, access to which will determine the victors of the future.

Keen to promote a more integrated internal market for defence goods and EU coordinated research and development, the players paid a special attention to smaller EU economies, to protect interests of employees in the defence industry, particularly in a period of transition, and support the modernisation of old, and creation of new branches in sectoral divisions.

On 13 November 2017 ministers from 23 member states signed a joint notification on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) to deliver to the High Representative and the Council. The prospect of the Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defence security and defence policy has been enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. It foresees a number of options of the EU member states working closely together in the area of security and defence. This permanent framework for defence cooperation will allow those member states willing and able to jointly develop defence capabilities, invest in shared projects, or enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

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