With the negotiations on the European Defence Fund about to start, the European Union possesses a chance to take a giant leap forward towards strengthening both the competitiveness of the European defence industry and the Union´s capacity to influence security policy on a global scale.
In order to achieve that, however, some crucial issues will have to be addressed. Above all, the Fund needs to recognize – not hide from – the fact that the Union and its partners are mutually dependant on each other for their security. And that´s a good thing. The ‘strategic autonomy’ pursued in the proposal stems from the idea that Europe is better off making it alone. Reality is quite different, however, as Europe needs its partners as much as our partners need us.
The Fund should not strive towards achieving any kind of autonomy vis-à-vis strategic allies. If anything, it should reinforce our partnerships with countries across the Atlantic and along the Pacific. Not to mention that without a future participation of the UK, the competitiveness of the Fund will be significantly weakened.
The aim should be to enhance the capacity and capabilities in Europe; therefore, it must recognise the global nature of the defence industry and remain open to participation by third countries willing to contribute to that end.
Third country involvement is not a hostile act against European industries, nor a threat to our shared security. Rather, it’s a necessity in order to make the European market more competitive and a recognition of the fact that the defence industry is intertwined with our security and defense policy.
For the Defence Fund to achieve its ambition of creating a competitive market for defence research and development, and ultimately supporting the alignment of security policy priorities, it needs to reinforce existing partnerships and work as an instrument to create new ones. Autonomy, however, just means you are alone.