Saving European Defence - Impulses for the June 2015 European Council

Wanha Satama Conference Centre, Hall A · 08.05.2015 13:30 - 15:30

The combination of steadily declining national defence budgets and mounting security threats puts enormous pressure on defence planning across Europe. The EU has tried to respond to the challenge by reenergising its Common Security and Defence Policy, encouraging systematic defence cooperation between the member states, opening European defence markets and creating funding opportunities for defence related research projects. This has effectively meant the evolvement of a new defence dimension in the EU, geared towards making the most of the Union’s strengths. In addition, a reassessment of the EU’s strategic priorities is under way. The European Council of June 2015 will take stock of the measures adopted so far and decide on further action. Where do the greatest challenges currently lie? What issues should the European Council pay particular attention to?
Opening remarks: Carl Haglund, Minister of Defence of Finland
Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive, European Defence Agency (EDA)
Prior to joining the EDA, Jorge Domecq, a senior Spanish diplomat, served as the Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Spain to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Prior to that, he served as Ambassador of Spain to the Republic of the Philippines. Since the start of his diplomatic career in 1985, Jorge Domecq has held several positions with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he acted as Director General for United Nations, Global Affairs and Human Rights, as well as Director General for Multilateral Affairs. Prior to that, he also acted as Director of the Private Office of the NATO Secretary General and as Diplomatic Adviser to the Spanish Minister of Defence.

Sylvia Kainz-Huber, Deputy Head of Unit for Defence, Aeronautic and Maritime industries, DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission 

Sylvia Kainz-Huber is Deputy Head of the Defence, Aeronautic and Maritime industries Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs since July 2013. Before taking up her current position, Ms. Kainz-Huber was Deputy Head of the unit responsible for the European space policy where she focused on issues related to space and security. Prior to that, she dealt with horizontal aspects of the EU’s industrial policy, the Directorate-General’s relations to other EU institutions, and SME policy. Her career in the European Commission also included posts in the Directorate-General for Research and Development where she dealt with SME access to the EU’s Research Framework Programme. Before joining the European Commission in 1995, Ms. Kainz-Huber worked with Siemens central business administration division and as journalist specialising in ICT.

Steven Blockmans, Head of Foreign Policy, Centre for European Policy Studies
Steven Blockmans is a senior research fellow and the head of the ‘EU foreign policy’ and ‘politics and institutions’ units of CEPS. His expertise lies at the crossroads of international and EU law and governance. He has published widely on the institutional structures for EU external action, the Union’s role in global governance, norm promotion and norm absorption, the EU enlargement policy, relations with neighbouring countries, CDSP, trade, development, and humanitarian aid. Blockmans is the co-author of ‘More Union in European Defence’, the report of the Task Force on European Security and Defence chaired by Javier Solana (CEPS/FES, February 2015).
Chair: Teija Tiilikainen, Director, the Finnish Institute of International Affairs

Further information: Sannamari Bagge, tel. +358 9 432 7711,

Summary of the seminar

Teija Tiilikainen, Director of FIIA

In her opening remarks Director Teija Tiilikainen emphasised the topical nature of the seminar and the keen interest Finland has shown in European defence cooperation. She also highlighted the new broader approach to defence that was adopted in December 2013. It provides a contrast to earlier years when the defence policy agenda was dominated by the CSDP.

Carl Haglund, Minister of Defence

In his remarks Carl Haglund, the Minister of Defence of Finland, expressed his wish that the upcoming June 2015 European Council will take European defence cooperation forward. He said that the December 2013 Summit was an important step in this field and that further progress should now be pursued actively.

Minister Haglund emphasised that Finland has viewed defence as a central part of the European integration process from the very beginning of its membership. Security was one of the key reasons for Finland to join the Union in the first place. Therefore Finland is also actively supporting the formation of the EU’s defence policy and setting an ambitious agenda for defence.

However, Minister Haglund also reminded that having the European Council conclusions on defence is one thing and implementing them is another. Finland has been active in the follow-up of the process that was started by the December 2013 council.

Haglund stressed that it is important that defence policy is seen holistically and that sectorial policies, such as industrial, innovation, research and development, cyber security and maritime policies, are considered as forming an integral part of defence policy. With this in mind, Minister Haglund noted that many of these different policy sectors are under the authority of the Commission and not the EEAS. As a result, there is a need for maximised cooperation in the field of defence.

Minister Haglund pointed out that there has already been a change during his term in office in the approach to defence. The European Defence Agency is a key player in this context, but according to Haglund the Commission should play a larger role in the EU’s defence dimension as well. In Haglund’s opinion, there is still a lot of untapped potential in defence cooperation. The EU’s internal market is a good example of potential defence cooperation. Defence cooperation can mean for example setting common standards. Through channels such as the internal market the EU can provide added value to this process.

Haglund mentioned that there would be a need for a more proactive approach in at least two areas. The first concerns the funding of defence related research; an area that has seen increasing activity by the European Commission. The second is related to the question of security of supply of military- and defence-related resources – there would be a lot of scope for improvement in this field.

In his final remarks Minister Haglund emphasised that cooperation in research does not come naturally, but has to be pushed forward. For this reason, Europe would also need a strategic vision and guidance. Minister Haglund proposed a Commission white paper on defence and argued that the member states need to leverage EU potential and combine their own approach to defence to achieve more coherent defence cooperation. Due to the crisis in Ukraine, defence matters more than ever and this underlines the need for increased cooperation.

Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive, European Defence Agency (EDA)

Mr Domecq started by pointing to the timely nature of the seminar, as the European Security environment is more complex and uncertain than at any point since the end of the Cold War. Finland is among the foremost countries encountering the changes in the eastern neighbourhood. However, the developments in North Africa and the Middle East have also crucially affected the security environment.

According to Domecq, European citizens’ expectations for the upcoming June 2015 Council are high. The new security strategy that is currently being worked on is important, but it is not enough by itself. There is a need for more concrete ideas and roadmaps on how to take the defence cooperation forward and these have to be accompanied by a narrative on how to get from the current position to more unified defence cooperation.

The December 2013 European Council conclusions were in Domecq’s opinion very positive and the main task of the EDA has since then been the implementation of these conclusions. In the June 2015 European Council the EDA will report on progress achieved since December 2013. This includes an assessment of the ongoing cooperation on four key capability programmes: 1. air-to-air refueling, 2. remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS or drones), 3. governmental satellite communications and 4. cyber security.

Beyond the four key programmes the EDA has been active in the areas of research, standards, funding, security of supply and support for the industry – especially small and medium-sized enterprises.

In the June 2015 European Council it is in Domecq’s view important to both assess and maintain the impetus for defence cooperation. The EDA has contributed by making some proposals for the upcoming European Council including benchmarks for investment and the identification of capability shortfalls. There is also need for increased support for the defence industries and R&D, as a healthy defence industry is crucial for Europe; with this in mind, R&D funding and investment in traditional defence research should be increased. Dual-use industries should also play a part in this sense. This new cooperation has to take into account the specific nature of the defence sector and the role of member states in this regard.

According to Domecq, cooperation in European defence still lags behind what it should be. This is due to different national requirements and the fragmentation of procurement, but most of all due to the lack of a common mindset.

The key question is how to spend more and how to spend better. This is especially demanding given the pressures of austerity. Thus, defence investment has to be incentivised and the EDA is preparing instruments for this. The EDA is also speaking with the European Investment Bank about the possibilities of investing in dual-use products.

Finally, the issue of security of supply is crucial. The key component here is the freedom of action for member states and ensuring access to key resources.

In Domecq’s view, a future vision for the EDA would include its role as an enabler. First, the EDA can support member states in proceeding further into European defence integration. Secondly, it needs to support the defence industry, as it is crucial that Europe maintains its industrial capabilities in defence and remains autonomous in this sense. This is important both in the sense of security policy and in terms of industry and employment. Thirdly, the EDA should ensure that the defence dimension is taken into account in wider EU policies.

Sylvia Kainz-Huber, Deputy Head of the Defence, Aeronautic and Maritime Industries Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Ms Kainz-Huber discussed in her remarks the Commission’s progress report that deals with the steps taken since the December 2013 European Council. Many of these issues are very similar to those already put forward by Mr Jorge Domecq. In addition, a crucial task for the Commission is the implementation of the defence directives adopted in 2009.

The immediate focus of the Commission is to prepare for the defence and foreign policy Council in may 2015.

The main aim of the Commission in terms of defence cooperation is to promote and maintain an innovative and broad defence industry base that can supply Europe with the needed defence capabilities.

The progress report contains a follow-up on the two defence directives adopted in 2009. It also looks at the potential to develop an EU-wide security of supply regime. This requires the identification of a framework for security of supply with the EDA and the member states. Thirdly there is an emphasis on facilitating cross-border market access for SMEs. Finally the Commission aims to support CSDP-related research. This will be initially made through a Preparatory Action (PA) on CSDP-related research – a small high level-group has already been established to give the Commission guidance on issues that have to do with the PA. However, it is important to integrate the area of defence-related research also into the next funding framework of the EU. The Commission is currently working with the EDA to identify fields of defence-related research that could utilise the Horizon 2020 funding framework, such as the field of dual-use goods.

In addition to these, several other areas are mentioned in the Commission’s implementation road map for the December 2013 conclusions. These include such areas as defence standards, certification, counterterrorism, civilian use of satellite communications, a new energy consultation forum, and maritime affairs.

The Commission’s progress report will be only one of the many reports supplied to the European Council in June 2015. There is a hope that the European Council will give strong top-down momentum for future defence-related cooperation, especially in the field of funding and research. The preparation for the next EU budget in the field of defence has to be taken forward already in 2016.

Steven Blockmans, Head of Foreign Policy, Centre for European Policy Studies

Mr Steven Blockmans presented the main findings of the report ’More Union in European Defence’, the report of the Task Force on European Security and Defence chaired by Javier Solana. He emphasised the importance of increased defence cooperation in the European Union.

The first step in forming a common defence policy would be to establish a common assessment of the key threats. This should take into account the diversification of security threats in Europe’s neighbourhood, the effects of austerity on European defence capabilities and the weakening role of Europe within the global setting. So far there is no common perception of the main security threats, and this prevents the development of common defence. This means that European leaders are essentially in denial of these threats.

However, there are several opportunities to go forward in the field of defence in Europe. Taken together, there is a considerable amount of spending on defence in Europe – approximately 190 billion euros in total – but the problem is that this amount is used to fund 28 different national armies. This shows that the funds for developing European defence are available, but more coordination is needed. According to the report, a majority of European citizens support more cooperation in defence.

The Lisbon Treaty also allows for increased cooperation in defence through several channels. There is also some political momentum for increased defence cooperation in the EU, and especially Germany has become a leader in this field. However, so far only modest progress has been achieved in the different defence initiatives. Therefore it is to be hoped that the June 2015 European Council takes bold steps in the field of defence cooperation.

According to the report Mr Blockmans presented, the long-term goal in the field of defence should be the birth of a European Defence Union. However, this vision is not reality yet. The report mostly focuses on institutions rather than on defence market integration.

One important step on the way towards increased deeper cooperation would be to revise the European Security Strategy and to consider the importance of military assets in this regard. The new security approach should see the development of high-level military assets to be used for the Petersberg tasks. This should be accompanied by a dual approach wherein European defence cooperation in the framework of the European Union should play a complementary role to NATO in terms of territorial defence and also give the Union the capability to conduct autonomous intervention operations.

With regard to the reform of defence institutions, it is clear that there are several regional defence clusters within the European Union and their mutual cooperation should be enhanced. There is also a need to boost high-level cooperation in this area. The report proposes that the European Council should discuss defence-related issues on a biannual basis and that the Council of Ministers – meeting in its defence format – should discuss defence issues on a monthly basis. This reform should also see a more active role for the European Parliament’s defence committee to ensure the accountability of defence-related policies. This should be backed up by inter-parliamentary discussions on defence activities.

A permanent headquarters of international high-level military staff should be established to coordinate military cooperation and enhance liaisons with NATO.

New financing mechanisms for European defence industries would also be needed. There should be a bigger common budget that should also be used also for defence.

In terms of industry reform and armaments cooperation, permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) should be initiated within the EDA. There could also be a form of the European Semester in terms of defence budgets. This would enhance transparency and coordination between the member states.


Jorge Domecq's keynote
Sylvia Kainz-Huber's keynote
Steven Blockmans' keynote