BRUSSELS, September 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
One of the key functions of the European Defence Agency is that of improving European military capabilities.
Whilst each government runs its own armed forces, there are many instances where European nations collaborate on deployments - peace keeping, humanitarian and combat missions. In these situations, it is vital that the best and most useful equipment is ready and available where and when it is needed and also that the different national armed forces are able to work together as smoothly and effectively as possible.
It seems obvious to any of us that when military units land in dangerous locations they have everything they need and that it is in good working order. It is clearly even better if other members of the deployment from different EU member states also know how to operate or store the equipment. However, making those assumptions a reality takes a great deal of effort and coordination behind the scenes.
Historically, these things have been difficult to make a reality. Armed forces naturally fear cooperation because they wish to retain every advantage that they can from every other potential foe. The increased cooperation of European member states on a political, economic and social level has gradually made this less of an issue. Increased European integration has made the entire EU stronger and this is now obvious to people at all levels in governments and their respective civil services.
There was always the additional barrier to cross that not every member state manufactures or purchases the same equipment as the others. Seemingly subtle equipment or process differences can lead to surprisingly large problems in the field. More obvious differences, such as purchasing completely different types of equipment, can make cooperation almost impossible at times. This, of course, reduces cooperation, interoperability and capabilities in potentially dangerous ways.
The process of harmonisation that began in 2004 when the EDA was formed has been able to transform many of these issues over time. For example, by introducing standards and procedures that all European governments could agree to, it has been possible to make giant leaps forward in the procurement process. This has led to reductions in both time and money being spent.
The small differences between national requirements and processes, mentioned above, was a very real problem for both governments and the companies that manufactured equipment for them. Seemingly small differences would often lead to time delays that would then create budgetary problems. It was for this reason that at the founding of the EDA we were asked to promote armaments cooperation wherever possible.
In addition to reducing these delays and overspends, a happy side effect of improving the procurement systems has been that working with multiple European member state governments simultaneously has become much easier. This is helping to develop the European defence sector, since it is rapidly becoming much simpler to navigate the procurement rules. We are seeing major benefits in improving the procurement process for all defence stakeholders.
At EDA, our next aim is to see those benefits expand to a wider range of stakeholders, including more of the European defence sector and many more SMEs across Europe. One of our core missions is to develop a competitive European defence equipment market and to strengthen the EU's entire defence sector.
Innovation in any economic sphere tends to come from smaller companies and start-ups. By making the process of selling to European governments more transparent and efficient, we hope to see a new breed of defence firm become established in the EU, bringing and developing new technologies to member states that enhance capabilities and lower operational costs.
SOURCE The European Defence Agency (EDA)