PARIS — A cross-border think tank, dubbed the Ares group, has been formed, seeking to examine the European arms industry, present policy proposals, and conduct research for government and industry, the research body said March 29.
Ares aims “to provide a forum to the European armament community … encourage fresh strategic thinking in the field, develop innovative policy proposals and conduct studies for public and private actors,” the institute said. Ares stands for Armament Industry European Research.
Institut des Relations Internationales et Stratégiques, a French think tank, acts as coordinator. Ares has five board members, including an official from Direction Générale de l’Armement, the French procurement office, and four other members based in Berlin, London and Paris.
There are seven scientific advisers based in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Poland.
In its launch paper, Ares sets out the importance of a cross-border approach.
In 2013, the defense industry in Europe supported 1.4 million jobs and generated €96 billion (US $107 billion) of annual sales, based on European Commission data, according to the launch paper, which also said the sector generates “prosperity and innovation.”
There is a need “to build a shared picture” of industry, which calls for a “more collective European thinking,” the paper said.
Past attempts at integration have yielded little. There is “fragmentation” in land and naval programs, less European cooperation than 15 years ago and a “non-negligible risk of renationalization” leading to weaker competitiveness, the paper said.
The research body seeks to explore “different perceptions” of the arms industry and the “future of its economic, technological and industrial dimensions” across Europe.
“The objective will not be to ‘think European’ for the sake of it, but to tackle the key challenges facing the European defense industry: increase competitiveness and identify (and aim at) a level of strategic autonomy that offers sufficient freedom of action and adequate security of supply in critical military capabilities,” the paper said.
Ares will produce a range of publications — short opinion pieces, medium policy papers and long reports — and hold two annual seminars in Brussels and Paris. Two or more contributors will write the policy and report publications.
The research group said it seeks to help stakeholders in the defense industry, namely European Union institutions, member states and industry itself.