Dáil Éireann - Volume 625 - 12 October, 2006

Written Answers. - European Defence Agency.

Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Defence if he will report on the 20 September 2006, meeting of the European Defence Agency, which held a review of the future of Europe’s defence technological and industrial base; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32308/06]

  Mr. O’Dea:The European Defence Agency Steering Board met in National Armaments Directors formation in Brussels on 20th September, 2006. The EDA Steering Board meets at different levels i.e. at ministerial level and at official level. In the case of meetings at National Armaments Directors level, an official from my Department acts as our representative at the Steering Board and attended the meeting.

[864] Among the responsibilities of the EDA is to explore ways in which to strengthen the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB). In this regard, the Agency has been examining a number of areas to support greater cohesion and to reduce the level of fragmentation in the sector. At the Steering Board in National Armaments Directors format on 20 September 2006, the Board discussed a range of issues relating to the Defence Equipment Market and the Technological and Industrial Base both of which are complimentary in seeking to reform, rationalise and strengthen the defence industrial sector. The Board reviewed the operation of the code of conduct on procurement, the code of best practice in the supply chain, together with issues relating to security of supply, security of information and offsets. All these initiatives are designed to improve the overall operation of the defence equipment market, eliminate market distortions and reduce the level of recourse by member States to Article 296 for defence equipment procurement.

In tandem with these market initiatives, the Agency is also examining how it can support greater co-operation among companies in the European defence industry so as to maintain and strengthen the industrial base. The report of the Agency on the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base recognises that, given the pressure on current national Defence Budgets and continuing fragmentation in both supply and demand, it is likely that the European defence industry will struggle to remain globally competitive into the future. The Agency set out a number of proposals to start addressing this issue. The view of the Agency is that the industry, in the future, must be Capability driven (responsive to PMS and EU defence needs), Competent (capable of delivering cutting-edge technology on time) and Competitive.

The Steering Board agreed with the Agency’s analysis and tasked the Agency to identity, in consultation with Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe, the main challenges and opportunities for the European defence industry, and to work with participating Member States to identify priority technologies for preservation or development at European level with a view to improving effective R&T collaboration.