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Defence industries

European Defence Industrial Policy

Implementation Roadmap for Communication on European Defence and Security Sector adopted on 24 June 2014

Click to open the roadmapThe Roadmap provides the basis for the Commission's work programme for measures to be taken to strengthen the Single Market for defence, to promote a more competitive defence industry and to foster synergies between civil and military research.

Communication on the European Defence and Security Sector adopted on 24 July 2013

Click to open brochure pdf - 3 MB [3 MB] The Communication sets out Commission proposals to strengthen the internal market and support the competitiveness of the defence and security industries.

  1. European Commission Communication (available in all languages): Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector
  2. Commission Staff Working Document accompanying the Communication
  3. Citizen's summary on reforming the defence and security sector

© EU Naval ForceThe Commission's defence industrial policy is designed to promote competition, innovation, support SMEs and provide a strong industrial base for the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

The Commission adopted, on 24th July 2013, the above Communication which sets out a series of proposals to strengthen the Internal Market for defence and support the competitiveness of the European defence industry. This builds upon the Defence Package, adopted in 2007, which was the first stage in establishing a modern policy and legislative framework to improve competitiveness, introduce greater transparency and cut unnecessary red tape. The package included two directives, now in force, aiming to simplify the transfers of defence-related products within the EU and coordinate procedures for contract awards in the fields of defence and security.

Why is more competition necessary?

  • The European defence market is highly regulated at a national level. Europe's defence-related industries (primarily the defence part of sectors such as aeronautics, space, electronics, land systems and shipbuilding) largely operate outside the internal market.
  • Fragmented markets create red tape, hamper innovation and lead to duplication of defence programmes and research – undermining our global competitiveness and the effectiveness of the CSDP.
  • Reduced defence budgets and escalating development costs make it too expensive for any single European country to maintain a comprehensive national defence industrial base.

The defence industry is mostly concentrated in six Member States (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK) although companies producing ancillary equipment and systems are found all over Europe. More than 1.350 SMEs play an important role in the European defence sector and are of critical importance to the supply chain.

The defence sector can provide an important contribution to regional economic development. In order to introduce the concept of smart specialisation and regional policy funding to European companies and research centers the European Commission and the European Defence Agency carried out a workshop on 28 January 2013. For more information see the agenda, the presentations and the proceedings of the event.

This was followed by a meeting on the competitiveness of the defence industry and the regional dimension, organised by the European Association of Regional Development Agencies (EURADA) on 9 October 2013. To facilitate the discussions, participating regions have replied to a questionnaire. For more information, see the overview of replies  Presentation [1.5 MB] and the meeting report  Word [38 KB].

The European defence equipment market is technology and research-intensive (electronics, IT, transport, biotechnology and nanotechnology – with many important spin-offs in civil sectors, e.g. satellite navigation).

Data on the industry can be found on the Staff Working Document. In relation to this the issue of skills needed by the defence sector in the future is an important question. As explained in the Defence Communication the Commission plans to explore whether the existing initiatives such as a European Sector Skills Council [420 KB] for Defence or the Sector Skills Alliances and Knowledge Alliances [450 KB] can contribute in defining and developing the necessary skills.

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