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12 July 2012

Defence industry: is Europe lagging behind?

While defence budgets across the European Union are being cut, defence spending in China, India, Brazil, Russia and other countries is rising. If Europe wants to maintain a sound security and defence industry, Member States need to coordinate their defence budgets, avoid overlaps and reinforce joint research programmes. This is the message which the EESC stressed in the opinion it adopted yesterday on the European defence industry.

"While certain third countries raise their defence expenditure, we cannot continue wasting time with separate research programmes or defence strategies. The EU goal should be clear: a common defence policy, a common research programme and a shared defence production." stressed rapporteur Joost van Iersel (Employers' Group, Netherlands).

On 11 July, the EESC plenary session adopted an own-initiative opinion on the Need for a European defence industry: industrial, innovative and social aspects. The EESC calls on the Council and the Commission to take action and update European foreign, security and defence policies and to work on a proper EU defence umbrella.

According to the EESC, the isolated practices of Member States are completely insufficient and a waste of the taxpayer’s money. Contrary to current trends, the EU should fully integrate its defence policy and industry, and create new synergies between the EU's non-defence R&D efforts, space-oriented R&D and security and defence related R&D. EU policies and funding should link EU and national investments to reduce the fragmentation and duplication of public expenditure and enhance quality and interoperability. Supportive research programmes would help the European defence industry to address undesirable dependencies on non-EU sources.

The Chinese defence budget is expected to rise from EUR 120 billion to EUR 250 billion by 2015. Russia has announced a huge increase in its defence budget by 2015. The US spends more than double the total European budget: EUR 450 bn. versus EUR 204 bn. in 2007 and the European budget is shrinking ever further. The European Union must address this growing imbalance and create a critical mass for effectiveness and cost efficiency.

For more information, please contact:

Karin Füssl, Head of the Press Unit


Tel.: +32 2 546 8722

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