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Defence readiness: strengthening the European defence industrial base

By Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market

As announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union address, it is imperative to continue building the European Defence Union.

 

With the return of high-intensity conflict on the European continent, we must adapt our armies and industries to new realities and new threats.

On the one hand, security of supply and the ability to scale up have become essential. We must produce more and faster, without depending on others.

On the other hand, we must continue investing. And we must do it while avoiding fragmentation within the EU. Injecting more money in a dispersed and uncoordinated way would only exacerbate our inefficiencies!

Building on our initial support to defence cooperation in the R&D phase through the European Defence Fund, since the start of the war of aggression of Russia in Ukraine we have introduced new instruments to strengthen and broaden defence cooperation.

 

 

Firstly, EDIRPA, an instrument to consolidate demand and support joint acquisition with €300m. It will give greater visibility and security with regard to the acquisition of defence capabilities by Member States.

Secondly, a €500m Instrument for Direct Support to Industrial Ammunition Production Capacity – ASAP, Pillar 3 of the Ammunitions Plan for Ukraine. This programme will invest to support the ramp-up of ammunition and missile production.

Of course, all these instruments are working in synergy with the European Peace Facility, which has played a decisive role in supporting the transfer of weapons to Ukraine.

Based on these achievements, we must now prepare our future framework for defence cooperation. Because the war is likely to last. Because the security architecture of Europe will be impacted for a long time.

Because, as Europeans, we must strengthen our role as security provider for our own continent.

A stronger Europe in NATO means a stronger NATO.

A stronger Europe in defence means having the freedom of choice when it comes to our security, and not depending on decisions taken elsewhere.  This is about European Defence Readiness.

This is why we will present a European Defence Industry Strategy.

 

 

In this context, we are working on a European Defence Investment Programme (EDIP)

We now need to complement our tools with a downstream programme to consolidate and expand support for European industry beyond 2025. But also to establish a regulatory framework that can be activated to support defence production when needed – a sort of European-style Defence Production Act.

 

Protection of contested spaces

Beyond the industrial issue that underpins any deepening of European defence policy, we are speeding up the implementation of the Strategic Compass, to form for the first time a European defence doctrine.

With a common objective: to guarantee the Union’s free access and freedom of action in all strategic areas and contested areas: cyber, space, maritime or air.

We must do more to protect each of these contested areas around truly European capabilities: European defence projects of common interest.

Because no single Member States can protect them alone.

 

 

First, cyber. We need to establish a cyber shield: a European infrastructure for the advanced detection of cyber attacks. We presented an embryo of it in the Cyber Solidarity Act, around an infrastructure of SOCs (security operation centres) and a cyber reserve allowing greater solidarity between Member States. We need to first agree on it, and then develop and expand it.

Then space. In the face of the growing risks of conflict, we must have the means to defend our strategic interests and protect our space infrastructures: Galileo, Copernicus and of course, the new constellation on secured connectivity: IRIS2.

I believe that it is now time to consolidate a European threat detection and identification capability – a true European space domain awareness (SDA) system and to present a Space Law.

On maritime now. Europe having the largest exclusive maritime zone in the world, we must strengthen our capacity to monitor this contested space, particularly with regard to the protection of the seabed and the critical infrastructures that makes it up.

And to develop, following the model of the European Multirole Corvette, our strategic European capabilities at sea. In the long to medium term, it will be unavoidable to ask ourselves the question of a European aircraft carrier.

 

 

Finally, on Air. Here again, we must move forward, towards a European anti-missile shield system, based on jointly developed hypersonic interceptor solutions

In Europe, collectively we have everything we need to step up the Defence Union in terms of technology, industrial basis, skills and know-how. We also have a long experience in military cooperation projects.

So let’s do it, let’s do it jointly.

 

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