If Europe wants to be a leader in technology, its support must include the defence sector.
The year 2013 is a key one for the EU’s efforts to promote dual-use synergies between Europe’s civil security and defence sectors, told Antonio Tajani, European Commissioner for Industry and Enterprise Policy at the Subcommittee on Security and Defence meeting on 24 April 2013 in the European Parliament.
“If Europe wants to be a leader in technology, its support must include the defence sector,” he told the subcommittee. “We cannot put off decisions regarding Europe’s defence industry or this is going to undermine the sector,” he said.
Referring to the Commission’s broader industrial policy goal of seeing manufacturing reach 20 percent of the EU’s GDP by 2020, he said “this must include defence and security sectors which are leaders in high-tech research. The year 2013 will be an important one [in the area of defence and dual-use technologies] , not only for the Council but because the Commission aims to play a leading role.”
The Commission will outline its ideas for strengthening the links between Europe’s civil security and defence sectors in a new communication, or policy paper, in June. Moreover, the Council is scheduled for the first time to hold a summit of EU leaders in December 2013 devoted mainly to the challenges facing Europe’s defence industrial base. The Commission will present its ideas to the leaders on how to support Europe’s defence sector, though this has to be approached indirectly since the EU’s treaty forbids direct support of the sector.
“Our security requirements are growing, while our resources are declining so it is a good thing that the Council has decided to open a debate on this subject,” observed Tajani.
Among the December summit’s topics, discussion will focus on how the EU’s existing policy instruments could be used to strengthen dual-use synergies between Europe’s civil security and defence industries. The idea is to promote technologies that can be exploited by public end-users in either sector. Communications, command-and-control capabilities, unmanned aerial systems, situational awareness, space assets and renewable energies are examples of dual-use technologies.
“Militaries are quite keen to move away from fossils fuels, and the EDA’s Go Green project is a good example of that,” said Tajani, referring to a European Defence Agency-sponsored project which involves six countries – Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece and Luxembourg. Their militaries are working with private sector civil partners to install solar infrastructure at certain pre-selected sites in order to generate substantial energy savings for the military.
The Security Research programme and FP7 also support many projects that lend themselves to dual-use application such as nano-technologies, new materials, mobile communications and robotics.