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The European Defence Agency

The European Defence Agency

Recommendation 747 on the European defence agency − reply to the annual report of the Council. Report (Document A/1856) submitted on behalf of the Technological and Aerospace Committee by Mr Braga, Rapporteur (Portugal, Socialist Group). Source: WEU, Paris, June 3, 2004.

      The Assembly,

  1. Taking note of the second part of the 49th annual report of the Council and in particular of the information its gives on the activities of WEAG and the WEAO Research Cell during the second half of 2003;

  2. Regretting the decision of the WEAG Ministers not to meet in autumn 2003 as originally planned, despite the major difficulties there would appear to be for the proper transfer of the acquis of WEAG and WEAO to the European Union;

  3. Welcoming the decision of the European Union member states to create an Agency "in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments", which marks the end of the first phase in the process of establishing the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP);

  4. Considering that the European Union will in the near future also be acquiring a Constitution and has adopted a strategic concept, and that it has military capabilities (the headline goal);

  5. Recalling that in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) it is the European states of the EU and NATO that are now shouldering the greatest responsibilities;

  6. Noting that the European states together are developing common capabilities and that those efforts are vitally necessary, for no country is in a position on its own to deal with all aspects (combat, establishing security, post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction) of the so-called extended Petersberg missions or the tasks of the NATO Response Force (NRF);

  7. Considering that the creation of a European Agency (EA) "in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments" is part of the process of setting up a European capability for intervention in international crises;

  8. Noting that since the adoption by the EU Council in its General Affairs and External Relations format of the report on the EA in November 2003, an initial working structure for the Agency has been set up;

  9. Considering that clearly the EU states will progress slowly during the initial phase of the EA, but that as its responsibilities increase, the Agency will provide the focus for European efforts in the field of capabilities, technologies and armaments;

  10. Taking account of the fact that the EU Council decision of 17 November 2003 identifies four major objectives for the EA;

  11. Noting that the first objective is directly linked to achieving the EU's headline goal, efforts towards which are under way in the framework of the European Capability Action Plan (ECAP), and that the following three objectives go beyond the strict area of crisis management and constitute a fresh attempt to rationalise and concentrate under a single authority the currently dispersed efforts of the European states in the field of armaments policy and defence R&T;

  12. Considering that as far as forces are concerned, the notions of concepts and doctrine, structures and support, personnel and training are important and that if the Agency's remit includes those areas too, then it is much more than a simple structure in charge of technical and technological matters;

  13. Noting furthermore that to date the only semblance of organisation and real efforts to cooperate on defence R&T have come from WEAO with its Research Cell, which, in particular, provides a legal basis for cooperation projects through the EUROPA Memorandum of Understanding, but which, given its limited resources, cannot give decisive impetus in this area;

  14. Stressing, nevertheless, that most European cooperation in the field of defence R&T takes place outside WEAO, since France, Germany and the United Kingdom prefer restricted bilateral or multilateral cooperation, which can be explained by their budgetary resources and technical/technological level;

  15. Recalling that in 1999, the European Technology Acquisition Programme (ETAP) was launched at France's initiative, with a view to making R&T projects part of a coherent overall strategy and providing structure for defence-related areas;

  16. Considering that the EA's responsibility for the coordination and planning of joint research activities − currently carried out by WEAG and WEAO in a multilateral framework that is broader than that of the EU − will help to rationalise existing cooperation and clarify the chain of responsibilities in the field of defence R&T;

  17. Noting that, if WEAG's tasks are fully taken over by the Agency, the arrangements proposed for involving WEAG member states that are not members of the European Union in specific Agency projects, where appropriate, fall fundamentally short of the rights currently enjoyed by those states in the field of European armaments cooperation;

  18. Stressing that the EA must serve as the instrument of a European armaments policy that in turn is part of a European defence policy, and that whatever interpretation is given to Article I-40.7 of the future EU Constitution, the EU will have de facto a direct responsibility for the territorial defence of its member states;

  19. Recalling that the preservation and development of the European defence industrial and technological base (EDITB) is a strategic objective for the European states;

  20. Noting that the EDITB, which also includes R&T, R&D, evaluation and expertise, research institutes and universities, is having some difficulty with the process of consolidation and that scattered structures, piecemeal budgets, conflicting or overlapping national priorities and the effects of transatlantic cooperation all contribute to this state of affairs;

  21. Considering that European investment in American programmes is quite high, which reduces the funding for "autonomous" European programmes;

  22. Recalling in that regard the participation of several European countries in the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) programme, an example which illustrates the de-structuring effect that transatlantic cooperation can have on the EDITB;

  23. Wishing to know more about the role of the EA in transatlantic cooperation;

  24. Emphasising that in the report on the EA adopted by the EU Council it is stipulated that specific cooperation programmes must be managed through OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation) or through specific arrangements on the basis of OCCAR experience, and by an EU-wide application of rules and procedures drawn up on the model of the Letter of Intent (LoI);

  25. Taking the view that the EA's role would seem to be subordinated to the interests of the OCCAR states, in other words, the big western European armaments-producing countries;

  26. Considering that the Agency would bring together most of the activities of ECAP, WEAG and WEAO, as well as coordinating European cooperation, but that when it came to the most important phase − the practical implementation of programmes − it would hand over their management to a body outside the EU structures, such as OCCAR;

  27. Noting furthermore that there are two complementary, but also divergent approaches concerning the EA's future: that of certain states in favour of an Agency with limited powers, and that of industry, for which the Agency is an important step in the process of framing a European defence industrial policy;

  28. Noting that the Agency's budget is an unknown factor, despite the fact that its financial resources are the key to its ability to play a role "in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments";

  29. Stressing that the EA must have sufficient human and budgetary resources to be able to work effectively in close cooperation with all other relevant bodies, including the Commission;

  30. Considering that the budgetary issue is also decisive for lending real weight to the Agency's legal personality, which in turn is essential in the area of contracts and for determining responsibilities in the case of disputes (and claims for damages);

  31. Noting that notwithstanding the maintenance of Article 296 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, which stipulates that armaments are the preserve of the member states, the Commission is today fully involved in this sector through two channels, industry and R&T;

  32. Stressing that with the ambiguity surrounding the so-called dual-use (civil and military) technologies and products, and with defence companies that are no longer state-controlled forming industrial groups with dual competences, the Commission is inevitably a player in this sector;

  33. Deeming, moreover, that in connection with its activities the EA will sooner or later have to tackle the question of cooperation with third countries;

  34. Considering therefore that the EA's activities will inevitably at an early stage involve cooperation with the United States, particularly in view of the some five billion euros invested thus far by European states in the JSF/F-35 fighter aircraft, in addition to off-the-shelf procurements by European firms of American equipment and technologies, the takeover of European firms by American companies, and the investments made by European companies in order to ensure their presence on the US defence market;

  35. Wishing to know more about the EA's role in international defence cooperation in the transatlantic and other frameworks,

      RECOMMENDS that the Council

  1. Ensure that the legitimate rights and interests of the WEAG countries that are not yet EU member states are taken into account in the process of setting up the European Agency;

  2. Hold a WEAG ministerial meeting in 2004 with a view to reaching agreement on transferring the acquis of WEAG and WEAO and giving the President of the Assembly the opportunity to address the Ministers;

  3. Energetically support the request of the WEAG countries that are not members of the EU to be granted observer status at meetings of the National Armaments Directors of the EU member states and their representatives and of the ad hoc preparatory group;

  4. Consult the Assembly prior to any decision with repercussions for the future activities of WEAG Panels I, II and III;

  5. Ensure that the expertise and responsibilities of WEAG and WEAO are included in the transfer of the functions of those two bodies to the EA;

  6. Ensure that the WEU member states and observer countries, in their capacity as members of the EU, take account of the following elements for the setting-up of the EA:

  • to begin with its role will be essentially confined to providing a central and visible forum for the discussions among the member states on the capabilities and equipment that are necessary for the "extended" Petersberg missions;

  • an exchange of information and the creation of a database on national and common capability projects are also two initial tasks that could be envisaged for the Agency;

  • the work of the various ECAP project groups will be grouped together under the Agency's auspices, so that the EA can deal not only with the development and supervision of ongoing capability projects, but also help identify future capabilities and operational requirements in accordance with the ESDP's evolving objectives;

  • the Agency's field of action concerns forces and equipment, hence the following tasks:

      • monitoring progress on and compliance with the capability commitments entered into by the member states through the ECAP process and Capability Development Mechanism (CDM);

      • promoting and coordinating harmonisation of military requirements;

      • identifying and proposing collaborative activities in the operational domain;

      • providing appraisals on financial priorities for capabilities development and acquisition;


  • the Agency will play a useful role for the small and medium-sized states that do not possess the full range of capabilities needed for current and future military crisis-management operations, but which often have centres of excellence that are complementary, and among which it is important to ensure that there is synergy as far upstream in the process as possible;

  • the Agency will be able in the future to incorporate the ECAT programme in its activities, which would send a strong political signal in favour of a framework programme on defence research, technological development and demonstration equivalent to that which exists in the civilian field;

  • in that respect it must be recalled that many military technologies are not dual-use;

  • a "European" armaments market will only really be able to develop if a "European preference" is introduced at some point and if there is genuine reciprocity and transparency in transatlantic relations;

  • the tripartite relationship between the Agency, OCCAR and the LoI/Framework Agreement makes the Agency an instrument for extending to the EU and its future armaments policy, as well as to its policy on defence R&D and R&T, the rules and arrangements drawn up and agreed by the main armaments producers/consumers, which may in the long run prove beneficial for creating a single European armaments market and for consolidating the EDITB;

  • the Agency's role in transatlantic cooperation remains to be defined;

  • the Agency staffing system as described in the report adopted by the Council (a lean core staff that can be augmented according to requirements by national officials and experts) may have the advantage of providing the Agency with expertise and giving it decisive national impetus for certain R&T programmes and sectors, but could also mean that the Agency could find itself hostage to disagreements among the "big countries" on its orientations;

  • a sufficient operating budget and specific budgets for individual programmes will enable the Agency to get off to a good start;

  • the use of appropriate funds should be envisaged for the European defence project;

  • contract authority founded on significant budgetary resources could become an instrument for consolidating the EDITB;

  • the Agency's role in transatlantic defence cooperation must be defined as of now, not only in political, but also industrial, technological, social and economic terms;

  • in order to improve the level of transatlantic cooperation and balance the roles of the different partners; a united European approach will be necessary for which the Agency could provide the appropriate framework, particularly in view of its aim of creating an internationally competitive European defence equipment market;

  • only a European armaments policy can provide guidelines for an agreement among governments on how to share the responsibility for the Agency's activities and mode of operation;

  • finally, the Agency can contribute to avoiding a repetition of past mistakes provided it is given the means to achieve the objectives that the EU member states have agreed upon.

  • See Document A/1856 submitted on behalf of the Technological and Aerospace Committee.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).