Nr 1 2010

On International Collaboration

With the ongoing recession, and ever-shrinking defense budgets, there is a growing neeed for international collaboration when it comes to developing new weapons platforms. Europe has a multitude of organizations for handling such efforts, the most notable of which are the European Defense Agency (EDA, with all EU member states except Denmark participating), the LoI/FA group of nations (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Sweden), the OCCAR procurement agency (presently UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Belgium), and the ETAP organization (same nations as LoI/FA) for collaboration on airborne systems. It should be noted that participation in an OCCAR acquisition program is open to any nation, without that nation formally being a member of OCCAR. Without being an OCCAR member, Sweden currently, and successfully, participates in an OCCAR program that will build a European capability in the area of software-defined radios.

Increasingly, after the entering into force of the Lisbon Treaty, we can expect the EDA to grow in importance, and OCCAR to run the acquisition programs initiated in the EDA, once the technology involved is deemed to be mature enough. Both the LoI/FA and ETAP organizations are fully relevant also after the emergence of the EDA as a key player, and there is presently a very active debate concerning their interface to the EDA, and any synergies and complementarities that can be identified between the organizations.

With its Defence Package launched last year, the European Commission has shown a growing interest in the areas of defence procurement, security of supply and intra-community transfer. The Commission increasingly tends to view the defense equipment market as not being exempted from the general principles of free trade and competition, and the Commission is likely to closely scrutinize, and maybe even initiate legal action relative to references to national and security interests for not competing a program. Another Defense Package can be expected from the commission in 2012. The activities of the Commission will greatly influence the conditions for future European arms collaboration.

Gunnar Hult

Chairman, Swedish Military Technology Association