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Strategy for the survival of the European defence industry

The European Commission has recently adopted a Communication setting out a strategy for the survival of the European defence industry. Faced by increasingly fierce competition from the US and falling demand, the European defence-related industry is at present too fragmented to...
The European Commission has recently adopted a Communication setting out a strategy for the survival of the European defence industry. Faced by increasingly fierce competition from the US and falling demand, the European defence-related industry is at present too fragmented to be sustainable. The strategy, developed at the initiative of Commissioners Bangemann and Van den Broek, is intended to facilitate the necessary restructuring process.

The Commission recommends a dual approach in its strategy document:

- Development of a European armaments policy;
- Development of an action plan for the defence-related industries.

Priority areas for attention relate to the adaptation of public procurement policy and legislation, intra-Community transfers of defence-related goods and common customs duties. Other areas to be considered include the rationalization of standards and the implementation of a benchmarking exercise for the sector.

Commenting on the Action Plan, Mr. Bangemann emphasized that: "The European defence industry makes an important contribution to the EU economy and to employment, but its fragmented nature clearly gives it a competitive disadvantage - one could go so far as to say it cannot survive in its current form. These are sensitive issues that need careful handling, however, the urgency of this situation means that we need to work fast".

Mr. Van den Broek added: "The time is ripe for a new initiative to put the issue of the European defence-related industry back on the political agenda. (...). By adopting the common position proposed by the Commission, the Council would recognize the need to agree at political level on the urgency to act."
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