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European Commission

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso at the joint Press Conference with Vice-President Tajani and Commissioner Barnier on the communication "Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector"

Press Conference/Brussels

24 July 2013

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today to present, together with Antonio Tajani and Michel Barnier, the European Commission communication "Towards a competitive and efficient European defence and security sector".

I have made the case consistently in my State of the Union addresses in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for a more effective and cohesive security and defence policy. We need it mainly for three reasons.

Firstly, because this is essential to reinforce our foreign policy and the European Union's role in the world. We need to be able to back up our positions of principle with security and civilian mission that can help stabilise the situation in crisis areas around the world. We also need critical expertise and autonomy in key capability areas.

Secondly, because in times of economic constraints we need to make a better use of public money. Member States cannot afford an isolated approach to security and defence anymore. Today, more than 75% of investment in defence equipment is spent nationally. We need to spend wisely, avoiding duplication, by pooling more investment and sharing more assets.

So, to be more efficient, cooperation between Member States and between security and defence is critical!

Thirdly: the defence and security sector is a major industrial cluster in Europe directly employing 400,000 people and indirectly generating another 960,000 jobs in Europe, with a turnover of €96 billion in 2012 alone and €23 billion of exports in 2011.

No need to say that in today's economies, our industries must stay competitive through creating innovation-based jobs.

Companies need to be more competitive, no matter their size, and SME’s are at the heart of our industrial base, also in this sector. Their innovation and clustering have to be better promoted and their resources better managed to ensure knowledge uptake in the market. This is all the more true in times where each single job in Europe counts.

This is why I have set up a Task Force in 2011, shared by Vice-President Tajani and Commissioner Barnier to discuss ways on how could the Commission, within its competences, enhance our common security and defence policy and reinforce Europe's industrial base in the defence sector.

This Task Force has brought together the services of the European Commission together with the EEAS and EDA, the European Defence Agency, both under the authority of High Representative Vice-President Catherine Ashton.

The result of its work is a Communication we are now presenting today. Let me just highlight very briefly the main features: further deepening the internal market on defence by tackling market distortions and improving security of supply; strengthening the competitiveness of Europe's technological and industrial base by promoting hybrid standards and industrial clusters; and exploiting synergies between civil and defence sector in research area by developing more dual-use products and capabilities.

I am therefore pleased that the European Council has decided to raise this issue of defence to the top of the European political agenda and asked the European Commission and the High Representative to present concrete proposals to support Member States to improve the competitiveness of defence industry and strengthen the internal market.

This Communication is also our contribution to this overall reflexion, which will be taken forward in December's European Council.

To conclude, 20 years ago it wouldn’t have been natural for the Commission to talk about Defence. Times have changed, which the Lisbon Treaty reflects. While the Defence sector pulls a lot of weight in our economies, threats and conflicts are more diffuse; the defence market becomes more and more technological; and Defence remains deeply connected to the security of citizens - and of course to the European Union's role on the international stage.

It's time to do more together on Defence! This is what I want to see happen – and I hope that his Communication can be a decisive contribution to this process.

Thank you.


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