BRUSSELS — EU leaders meeting here Thursday at a summit on EU defense policy have asked the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Commission to produce a roadmap for the development of defense industrial standards by mid-2014 “without duplicating existing standards, in particular NATO standards.”
The EDA, Commission and EU member states are also asked to develop options to lower the costs of military certification, “including by increasing mutual recognition between EU member states.” The idea is that developing such standards and certification procedures for defense equipment will reduce costs, harmonize demand and increase interoperability.
In terms of research, EU leaders want the EDA and Commission to come up with proposals to stimulate dual use research (i.e. for both military and civilian purposes). One potential source of EU funding named in the conclusions of the summit drafted by EU leaders is the EU’s Horizon 2020 research program.
As for military capabilities, the conclusions point to, inter alia, the development of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) within the 2020-2025 timeframe, the establishment of multi-role tanker transport capability, a users’ group to prepare the next generation of government satellite communications and a cyberdefense roadmap focusing on training and exercises, improving civil/military cooperation based on the EU’s cybersecurity strategy and protecting assets in EU missions and operations.
However, these do not involve all 28 EU member states, which favor more of an ‘à la carte’ approach born out by the wording of the conclusions. This model employs “cooperative approaches whereby willing member states or groups of member states develop capabilities based on common standards or decide on common usage, maintenance or training arrangements, while enjoying access to such capabilities.”
The EDA and the EU’s High Representative have also been asked to come up with a policy framework by the end of 2014 to foster systematic and long-term defense cooperation. The conclusions refer to the need for more “transparency and information sharing in defense planning, allowing national planners and decision-makers to consider greater convergence of capability needs and timelines.”
EU leaders will return to these and other defense-related issues in June 2015.