Why Europe needs its defence industry
The need for security in an insecure world
War between EU Member States may have become unthinkable, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows that even in Europe, peace and stability can never be taken for granted. European values, interests, security, independence and integrity are neither a given nor for free. Europe must be ready and prepared to defend them and contribute actively to preserving peace, preventing conflicts and strengthening international security. This is possible only if diplomacy is backed up with credible military capabilities.
The need for armed forces
One of the primary functions of any state is to protect its citizens. Military power is the ultimate instrument of a state to ensure its external security. Armed forces are indispensable to defend national territory or the territory of allies and thereby deter military aggression by other states. They also provide essential support in case of natural or man-made disasters, and for the support of broader foreign policy goals, e.g. for crisis operations abroad.
The need for defence industries
Armed forces can only fulfil their role as a security provider if they are equipped with the means they need to cope with the threats they may face. Their equipment must be appropriate to address specific requirements for a broad variety of military tasks, ranging from territorial defence against a full-scale military attack to special operations like the liberation of hostages abroad. In all possible scenarios, their equipment must be sufficiently advanced to provide operational superiority over potential adversaries. Only trusted and innovative companies, which have the necessary technological know-how and expertise, are able to develop and produce such equipment.
The need for European defence industries
Defence equipment can also be purchased from non-European companies, and European governments regularly do so to different degrees. However, depending solely on defence products from outside Europe would entail serious risks, in particular in times of crisis or war, when political tensions or production shortages may arise. Moreover, off-the-shelf equipment from abroad is never tailor-made for the armed forces of the buying country and may come along with technical restrictions that limit operational freedom and the understanding of the system. Finally, the possibility to procure defence products from European companies strengthens the negotiating position of all European countries vis-à-vis non-European suppliers.
Europe’s capacity to defend itself therefore depends also on its defence industrial capacities. To remain a place of freedom and democracy, Europe needs to have an efficient indigenous defence industry.
Defence in ASD
ASD fully supports these initiatives and accompanies them actively through its Defence Business Unit (DBU), which brings together some 25 high-level representatives of companies and national associations from across Europe. Supported by several expert groups, the DBU defines common industry positions and provides substantial input to EU policymakers and key stakeholders. The DBU is chaired by Kai Horten from BDSV and vice-chaired by Andrea Barbagelata from Leonardo, Henrik Petersson from Saab and Sébastien Guérémy from Thales.