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Summary of speeches and debates

Summary of speeches and debates

Colloquy on "Equipping our forces for Europe's security and defence - priorities and shortcomings"

Palacio del Senado, Plaza de la Marina Española, Madrid

5 and 6 March 2002

Summary of speeches and debates

    Over 250 participants from 30 European countries and the USA took part in the Assembly's Madrid Colloquy on equipment needs for ESDP crisis-management tasks, which brought together national and European parliamentarians, government representatives, military staff, industry representatives and specialist journalists.

    The Assembly has recently focused a large part of its activities on the military equipment required for crisis-management operations in the framework of the new European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP)1. While there has been considerable institutional progress, there is still a long way to go with respect to the enhancement of military capabilities, the improvement of forces' equipment and overall defence spending.

    In the Assembly, parliamentarians from 28 European countries closely follow intergovernmental activities to make sure that European soldiers are given the best equipment for any crisis-management tasks they are asked to perform. Parliamentarians also want to make sure that the European armaments industry can benefit from the many opportunities the investment in crisis-management equipment will offer.

    In cooperation with the Spanish EU/WEU Presidency, the Assembly therefore organised the Madrid Colloquy into three sittings dealing with the three main aspects of equipping our forces for crisis-management operations:

  1. What kind of operations are expected and what are their material and operational needs?
  2. What are the contributions of the defence procurement institutions?
  3. What capabilities can the European armaments industries offer?


What kinds of operational needs for which purposes?

    In his opening remarks, President Bühler said he hoped that the colloquy would contribute to a better understanding of the requirements of ESDP and that it would raise awareness that greater efforts in defence investment were needed, if ESDP was to succeed. He called for a common European defence research fund as research today would determine future capabilities. He also proposed that the EU Military Committee should ensure there was coordination between the European defence industry and ESDP.

    Representing the Spanish EU/WEU Presidency, State Secretary for Defence, Fernando Diez Moreno, presented a 10-point Action Plan that was "a basic document on a European Arms Policy (EAP)". In his view, EAP had to be based on the principle of "voluntary compliance". The European armaments industry had to serve ESDP rather than European policy serving the industry. However, he called for a single European Armaments Organisation to raise the level of the "European presence in the armaments market". He also suggested that the National Armaments Directors should be given the opportunity of holding formal meetings in the EU to provide the EU Defence Ministers with advice.

    Julian Lindley-French from the EU Institute for Security Studies said "for too long the European effort has been focused more on institutional aspects of defence and less on preparing effective forces for dealing (practically) with (real) threats". The core problems the Europeans were facing were "poor organisation and insufficient investment". Modernisation of defence equipment would not come cheap after the "fantasy of the post-cold war defence premium", which had led to inadequate defence spending. He questioned whether the Headline Goal Force with its corps-sized rapid reaction force was really what Europe needed. Instead, the war in Afghanistan had shown the need for smaller immediate-reaction special forces able to deal with multiple-intensity peacemaking missions. Europeans should concentrate funding on a number of elite special forces, some 5000-strong. Backed up by peacekeepers, this formula would be relatively cheap.

    With respect to European shortcomings at the command level, he suggested that SHAPE should be progressively "Europeanised". SHAPE should be better able to plan and command variable European coalitions of the willing to undertake multiple-intensity missions. The US Army should "stop blocking the reform of SHAPE", because the US was "unlikely to ever again be part of a military mission in a multinational structure" and Europeans were in need of a reformed SHAPE for proper operational planning. Another vital element of a successful ESDP was an "autonomous strategic intelligence capacity".

    Admiral Moreno Barberá, Chief of the Spanish Defence Staff, said the uniqueness of the ESDP approach to crisis management was the high readiness required for the armed forces. The EU had given rapid response capability priority over other considerations. For EU citizens the need for humanitarian aid missions or rescue missions was highly unpredictable and they had to be "executed with very short warning time". While these missions could not be considered as exclusive for the EU, they would not normally be part of NATO operations.

    Alan Meale, the Assembly's Rapporteur for a previous report on Defence Equipment for Crisis Management (Document 1760), noted that ESDP had given "a real and positive lead to European Nations and their allies to stop `out guessing each other' in such an important field as defence". The Capabilities Commitment Conferences held in Brussels in November 2000 and 2001, were important staging posts in helping to translate the Helsinki objectives into operational requirements. He reminded those present that the story neither started nor finished with Helsinki. As early as 1998, WEU ministers, meeting in Rome, had taken the decision to draw up an audit of assets and capabilities for European crisis-management operations. WEU had completed the audit by November 1999 and this valuable work, providing key facts and figures, had subsequently been built upon extensively.

    He recalled that the Helsinki European Council had stated that the crisis intervention forces should be militarily self-sustaining, with the necessary joint control, intelligence capabilities, logistics and other combat support services. To achieve this, European nations should bring their efforts to bear, in particular in the fields of intelligence capabilities, forces projection, command and control and communication systems, and on the means of power projection and forces protection. Europeans would have to "to fish in the same pool and together", and move with urgency and readiness to meet fixed targets. This strategy would be greatly helped if many of the tried and trusted structures and institutions already in operation were fully utilised rather than being ignored, underused or, worse still, new ones being created. He recalled that the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG) remained the sole European forum dealing with armaments matters that included all EU members, except Ireland, and all European NATO members, except Iceland.

    He predicted that the Petersberg missions would inevitably mean an increase in the use of ground troops. Therefore, Europeans were in need of fully funded forces that knew one another, were trained and protected. Zero budget increases would not deliver the Petersberg tasks.

    During the subsequent discussion parliamentarians emphasised a number of issues which they considered important for the improvement of Europe's operational capabilities. It was argued that in order to be prepared for future contingencies, European armed forces will need to have real combat capabilities. It was not enough to concentrate only on Petersberg tasks.

    The A 400 M was indispensable to meet the urgent requirement of airlift capability, but in the future, even bigger airlifters might be needed. European naval power projection was also an important issue to be addressed and flexible vessels were needed with both air power and sea lift capabilities.

    A Russian parliamentarian argued that Russia had capabilities, especially in the fields of airlift, intelligence satellites and global positioning systems which were useful for Europe. More attention should be given to technological and industrial cooperation between Russia and the Western European countries.

    Europe's security and defence role should not be reduced to cleaning up after US military actions.

    It was little use for Europeans to criticise the US policy if at the same time European countries continued to reduce their defence budgets.

    The ESDP missions included in the Nice Treaty might have to be reconsidered in view of new risks and threats.

    Europe must define more clearly its future security and defence role in Europe and in the rest of the world.

    Many European countries still maintained armed forces and equipment which would be of little use in meeting future threats and risks. A thorough revaluation of those forces was needed.

    Europeans must agree on what they wanted to do in order to ascertain what equipment was needed, and then be ready to make the necessary financial commitments. Instead, Europeans were having to limit their missions to what was possible within the existing level of financial resources.


Projects initiated in the institutions: lessons to be learned

    Brigitte Böhlin, National Armaments Director for Sweden, referred to her country's particular position in not being a full member of either WEU or NATO. For that reason she was presenting a practical view of the problems large-scale armaments programmes raised, using the GRIPEN hunter aircraft programme as an example to identify the characteristics of a successful programme. She listed nine points as follows:

  • Existence of a clear defence doctrine/purpose/role
  • Real demand for products is identified
  • Governments and authorities capable of long-term, lasting decisions
  • Long-term R&T programmes launched in support of the projects
  • Creating a constructive attitude to activities so as to attract front-line resources
  • Stakes by strong competent industrial groups
  • Creating an interconnection between military and civilian production
  • Exploitation of competition
  • A highly competent and qualified customer

    In terms of lessons learned, she stressed the overriding need to establish a real life-cycle management process using "added-value" tools. Noting the increase in annual development costs of armaments programmes she advocated shorter development periods, international cooperation, implementation of the Letter of Intent (LoI) and guaranteeing the transatlantic link.

    In conclusion, Europe must be able to draw on European-developed capabilities. To do so it was necessary to harmonise operational needs and persevere with determination to make cooperation work.

    Stephen Logan, Programme Coordination and Prospective Cooperation Section Leader, OCCAR, Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation, gave a presentation on his organisation. He recalled the five basic principles on which it was founded: profitability; harmonisation (of needs and technologies); competitive industrial base; abandoning the principle of "juste retour" (global balance); opening the door to other countries, OCCAR's aim being to become "the best multinational agency for defence equipment procurement".

    OCCAR today comprised four member states: Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom, and would be operational in practice as from the forthcoming ratification by Italy of its founding Treaty. It was open to other European nations: Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain had expressed interest. The main programme OCCAR was concerned with was the A 400 M. Non-member countries could participate in any OCCAR programme on a case by case basis provided they accepted the above principles.

    The speaker then summarised the position as follows:

  • Implementation of a modern, cost effective, operational organisation
  • Introduction of programme management by objectives
  • Introduction of systematic business plans including performance measurement
  • Successful use of OMPs for new contracts (TIGER, GTK)
  • Improved focus on customer requirements in terms of time, cost and performance
  • Improved identification of problem areas and reaction times for remedial action through short reporting lines to concerned national authorities
  • Application of lessons learned quickly across a range of programmes
  • Implementation of a "Weapon System Approach"
  • Establishment of improved ILS concepts for In-Service phase
  • Catalyst for the establishment of common support policies

    Nicolas Maffert, Ingénieur Général de l'Armement, National Armaments Deputy Director for France, summarised Europe's armaments achievements in the institutional and industrial spheres.

    Noting the progress made, but also the setbacks in European cooperation during the 1990s, he observed that now that the ESDP had been set up in the EU the current period should be one where military requirements could be harmonised. The capability-based approach, identification of shortfalls and organisational endeavour on the part of the 15 EU member states (plans for enhancement of capabilities and the future air systems (SCAFE/ETAP) project were proving effective. However, holding down defence budgets, especially in the field of R&D, was a risk that gave cause for concern.

    He welcomed the fact that OCCAR had become active and that the LoI was now an international Treaty. This agreement between the six principal European armaments manufacturers (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Russia, Sweden) was very important in promoting European industrial cooperation. Furthermore, it was necessary to continue discussions with our American allies to gain wider access to their defence market and establish a more cooperative attitude towards technology transfer.

    The LoI provided for regulation in the following six areas: security of supply, export procedures, security of information, research and technology, intellectual property and harmonisation of operational needs. In conclusion, Armaments Europe was currently making great strides in organisational terms, politically and militarily, and from an industrial point of view. However financial input was needed in research and technology in order to counter the challenge from the US.

    Gary Titley, Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur for its Foreign Affairs Committee, observed that Europe spent the equivalent of 60% of the US defence budget but estimated that it was only 10% as operationally efficient as America. For this to change, there was a need to implement the EU Headline Goal, but it was no longer possible to get by with gentlemen's agreements between governments. To become more effective there had to be a review of expenditure, particularly in R&D.

    The European Parliament had already made proposals and the Committee was to put forward an action plan for achieving a single market. To do so, there had to be a change in how Article 296 (former 223) of the Treaty on European Union was interpreted.

    There was a need to set up a European Armaments Agency based on OCCAR. Referring to the gap between the first and second pillars he suggested bringing together in one appointment the functions of Foreign Affairs Commissioner and Secretary-General/High Representative of the CFSP.

    In conclusion, he felt that it was necessary to find a better way than consensus of reaching decisions in this area - without going as far as federalism - by adopting a more effective intergovernmental formula with a form of democratic scrutiny that involved the national parliaments and the European Parliament.

    Ilana Bet-El, Senior Policy Advisor, GPC International began by noting the inability of European political decision-makers to agree clear objectives, as in Bosnia and during the Kosovo conflict.

    In the CFSP area, the weakness of defence budgets and the absence of an industrial platform with a proper R&D budget would lead to a real reduction of European military capabilities and, as a corollary, oblige Europeans to improve cooperation.

    The lack of a long-term strategic vision over a period of 4 to 40 years, the lack of joint investment in R&D, which was still funded on a national basis, and the small number of joint European projects betrayed the need for a true political vision that was lacking at present.


Getting the best out of what the European armaments industry can offer

    The Chairman of the Assembly's Technological and Aerospace Committee, David Atkinson, reminded those present of two principles stated during the previous sittings, namely that the defence industry must serve defence policy and that politicians must pay attention to the views of industry in drawing up a defence policy.

    Corrado Antonini, President of the European Defence Industries Group (EDIG), gave a presentation on EDIG activities and objectives, laying particular emphasis on two essential aspects for Europe's success in armaments production: the rationalisation and integration of its defence industries. This had to be supported by establishing long-term political and military planning machinery, equipment procurement programmes and armed forces capacity building, and by allocating budget resources adequate to the goals to be achieved.

    In terms of the industry, EDIG proposed implementing a Code of Practice that addressed all supply chain aspects and encouraged the implementation of good practice in industry procurement. The Code paid particular attention to the smaller defence firms, and to the subcontractors and suppliers of the large European multinational concerns in the sector by identifying means for their growth and development without having to have recourse to national subsidies and other methods of preferential treatment that distort competition.

    Success in restructuring the sector and the emergence of world scale European industrial players depended on the level of integration of industrial and defence policies achieved across Europe, making it possible on the one hand to close some of the gaps that had opened up between it and the United States in terms of industrial organisation and equipment production and on the other to open up further possibilities for transatlantic cooperation and strengthen political and military cooperation between allies.

    Alberto Fernández, President of the Spanish Defence Industries Association (AFARMADE), next gave a presentation on the state of play in the Spanish defence industry and the latter's place in Europe in terms of its exports and partnerships with other European industries. The Spanish defence industry was currently undergoing a period of expansion and its prospects over the next ten years looked promising, which enabled it to play a substantial and active part in the process of integrating European defence industries.

    From Spain's point of view, that integration should be achieved by various methods and means, depending on the specific characteristics of each of the players involved, rather than by following a single pattern that failed to take account of national particularities. By integrating the industry in Europe it should be possible to achieve a technological edge that met European requirements and contributed to the development of closer partnership ties with the United States.

    Patrice Hummel, EADS, Vice-President, Strategic Coordination, described the evolution of Armaments Europe in recent years, comparing it with the United States. The European process was a slower one, on account of its transnational dimension, with players with different visions of the future of the European Defence Industry. National governments had a central role in this process and should determine areas needing development, support exports, develop research capabilities and resources and promote investment and cooperation.

    To be able to compete with the United States and close the technological gap, adequate funding was needed for European military capabilities to attain the goals defined. At European level, it was important too for defence industries to adapt to customers' specific requirements and develop the widest possible industrial cooperation.

    Simon Jewell, Future Systems Managing Director, BAe Systems, described the shortcomings that plagued Europe's defence industry, characterised by a wide range of products and widely dispersed production. Four major questions summed up the problem and guided the search for solutions: Was it possible to talk about a European Defence Equipment Market (EDEM)? Why not buy everything from the United States? Were changes in Europe moving at the right speed? Were more initiatives or less required in defence and the defence equipment field?

    For each of the problems raised, different solutions were possible. For example, a state might decide to open up its defence market to the industries of other states on an equal footing with national players, or encourage industrial harmonisation at European level over national preference. In both cases it was necessary to increase the budget for defence equipment for the armed forces and endeavour to reconcile competition and partnership between defence industries.

    Recourse to foreign purchasing should take account of the fact that defence procurement was an investment. If the economic benefits of relying on national (and European) capabilities, measured in terms of contribution to the economy (jobs, exports etc.) and of development of the national technology base, were inferior to those deriving from foreign direct procurement, the latter was a reasonable and justified option. The disadvantage of that approach was its (increasing) cost and the need to keep up with innovations introduced by the supplier because of his own needs.

    The evolution of Europe's defence industries was still fairly slow, which made it difficult to ward off threats that might arise. Here industry could make some major contributions, as the United Kingdom had done with the Public-Private Partnership programme and the Private Finance Initiative. Another way of cutting down on costs and freeing-up resources for modernising the armed forces consisted in reducing as far as possible the stockpile of equipment for which they were responsible.

    Giorgio Zappa, President, Alenia Aerospazio, pointed out that governments made their choice of military equipment in a pre-determined context that took account of armed forces' structures (professional or conscript army) and their need for modern equipment adapted to their missions. Notwithstanding the numerous initiatives in recent years (Letter of Intent, OCCAR, national reform) progress was modest and its effects slow to produce results. Hence Defence Europe suffered from a lack of programming and the absence of medium and long-term planning.

    The future of current programmes was uncertain, particularly when one considered the prospects for exporting the equipment produced and how it could be made to meet national and European defence requirements. However, this did not mean that the substantial investment already made in those projects should be called into question, since defence budgets evolved slowly over time. At the same time, the technology gap between the United States and Europe was widening, making both competition and the search for transatlantic partnerships problematic. Investment should go into those areas offering the potential for success and towards those industries that had research and development capabilities able to respond to the new demands from the armed forces.


What should we be looking for from a European policy?

    Bruno Tertrais, Senior Research Fellow, Fondation pour la recherche stratégique, France, summed up the debates.

    He enumerated the tenets of a European defence policy in the wake of 11 September. This was based on five factors:

  • autonomy, in close partnership with NATO;
  • useful and constructive duplication;
  • the Petersberg tasks and their sphere of action;
  • integration of civilian and military aspects;
  • achievement of the headline goal defined in Helsinki.

    With the coming of monetary union (the euro) defence could become the next significant worksite in the building of Europe, starting with the drafting of a European Defence white paper.

    The Petersberg tasks should also be revised and become more ambitious, while Europe must turn its attention towards Asia and the challenges that would surely come from that continent. It was necessary to develop European defence resources, in order to counter the effects of a partial withdrawal from Europe on the part of the United States, by recourse to joint funding and development of command, control and communications capabilities.

    This demanded greater support from the general public, and major responsibilities fell to the national parliaments for information and education in regard to this process.

    President Bühler then drew the debate to a close. He thanked the EU/WEU Spanish Presidency for its help in organising the colloquy which had contributed to making Europe more aware of issues relating to armaments production and the European defence industry as a whole.

    He recalled that there was much criticism about the armed forces' equipment, the insufficient financial commitment on the part of the European states and the lack of a clear way forward for the ESDP. But one should remember that European security and defence had taken great strides since Saint Malo.

    The Assembly had always supported the ESDP and would continue to do so. He welcomed the many practical proposals that had been put forward, such as the 10-point plan and the basic document for a European security policy presented by the Spanish State Secretary, Mr Diez Moreno, and his suggestion that the National Armaments Directors should hold formal meetings at EU level, in order to provide better input for the meetings of Defence Ministers.

    He also recalled the proposal made by Mr Lindley French, from the EU Institute for Security Studies, for, to begin with, small numbers of immediate-reaction special forces and considered it as being worthy of further consideration.

    Another proposal was to combine the offices of the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the EU Commissioner for External Relations.

    One point which had emerged particularly clearly was the need for further debate in the EU about the goals of the ESDP. The spectrum ranges from humanitarian missions to high-intensity military operations. Another important point is that ESDP cannot be successful without having a close cooperation with the USA.

    The Assembly would participate in that debate, for European troops were facing the toughest of tasks in the Balkans and Afghanistan and needed to have clear political aims and modern technical equipment.

    They needed the support of politicians, not only to provide material support and the best possible equipment - which went without saying - but also quite literally to show that they were fully behind them.

1 Cf. "Defence equipment for European crisis management - reply to the annual report of the Council", report submitted on behalf of the Technological and Aerospace Committee by Mr Alan Meale, Rapporteur, Assembly Document 1760, 5 December 2001, and "European strategic lift capabilities - reply to the annual report of the Council", report submitted on behalf of the Defence Committee by Mr John Wilkinson, Rapporteur, Assembly Document 1757, 5 December 2001. Reports are available on the Assembly's website at: www.assembly.weu.int

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