Industry sets out minimum requirements for defence research agency
'Industry is looking for a structure able to provide added value to the whole EU Community through more effectively managed research, development and acquisition programmes,' concludes a position paper on the proposed European armaments, research and military capability agency from organisations representing Europe's defence industry. A decision to create the agency was made by Europe's Heads of State and Government at the Thessaloniki Council in June 2003. The Council conclusions state that the purpose of the agency shall be to develop defence capabilities 'in the field of crisis management, promoting and enhancing European armaments cooperation, strengthening the European defence industrial and technological base and creating a competitive European defence equipment market, as well as promoting, in liaison with the Community's research activities where appropriate, research aimed at leadership in strategic technologies for future defence and security capabilities.' Setting out the 'minimum' requirements for such an agency, the European association of aerospace industries (AECMA), Eurospace and the European defence industries group (EDIG) call for the agency to carry out both mandatory activities and optional programmes. The paper proposes that funding allocations are made by each Member State to the administrative and mandatory activities, and to the optional programmes unless a country has formally declared itself not interested in participating therein. Such an arrangement would 'reinforce the cohesion among nations,' claims the paper. The research tasks of the agency should be based on a list of strategic technologies defined by all stakeholders, insist the aerospace and defence industries. The agency should not, however, become isolated from other developments in defence research, and in order to ensure this, should liase with European defence and security research policy makers in order to keep abreast of broad and advanced studies. The writers of the paper emphasise that it really does contain the minimum requirements for a European armaments, research and military capability agency, and that 'There are voices in industry requesting a wider remit as well as a stronger commitment towards joint financing.' The paper has been sent to four European Commissioners, as well as the European Council High Representative and selected MEPs.