EDA Chief Executive Alexander Weis Outlines EDA Agenda to European Parliament Security and Defence Subcommittee
(Source: European Defence Agency; issued Jan. 10, 2008)
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee,

It’s a pleasure to be here with you, so early in the New Year. So, first of all let me wish you all a very happy 2008.

My predecessor, Nick Witney, used to visit the Subcommittee regularly to discuss with you the ongoing and future activities of the European Defence Agency. I am glad to continue this tradition and I thank you, Chairman, for the early invitation.

I say “early” because it is barely three months since I started my job as the second Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, on 1 October last year. This has two implications:

-- One – I don’t start from scratch, as I build on the results which have been realised in the first three years of the Agency’s existence. So, you will see a lot of continuity – and I will come back to some of the major agendas running from 2007 into 2008; and

-- Two – as a newcomer I will also try to make a few changes. The theme here is: to make the Agency even more operational, in particular by launching big collaborative programmes and projects. I will mention a few potential new projects later on.


Let me start with continuity. First, it is important to recall that the Agency’s activities will remain capability-driven. Some commentators might have expected that with me at the steering wheel – in my former job I was the Deputy National Armaments Director in Germany – the EDA would now become “an Armaments Agency”.

Let me be very clear: EDA remains a Defence Agency, capability-driven and it will continue to work on the basis of the integrated approach, connecting capability requirements, Research & Technology, armaments cooperation and the Industry and Market agendas. We have seen positive early results of this approach already, with the example of the Joint Investment Programme on Force Protection (the ‘JIP’ as we call it). In that programme future capability requirements have been the drivers for joint R&T investment in a crucial capability area – the protection of our soldiers in dangerous environments, as we can see on TV daily. Late last year the first contracts were signed for spending the first tranche of about €15 million, out of the total of just over €55 million. The JIP is a great success and in 2008 we hope to launch a second Joint Investment Programme, also proving that we are progressing with spending better and more together on Defence R&T.

Four ‘Strategies’.

In 2008, work on the ‘strategic issues’ will continue. A few words on each of them:

-- First, the Capability Development Plan. We are nearly half way between launching the elaboration of the CDP in June 2007 and the delivery of the initial version by mid- 2008. Work is progressing well. The Capabilities Steering Board will meet mid- February to take stock and to provide guidance for the remaining activities. What will the CDP look like? Certainly not a telephone book, describing the numbers of tanks, aircraft and ships the Member States should have. That is Cold War defence planning. Rather, the CDP will provide a global picture of capability needs, capability trends and potential capability shortfalls. It will connect what we call short-term needs 3 (Headline Goal 2010) with the longer-term capability needs, based on the Long-Term Vision, endorsed by European Defence Ministers in 2006. But the CDP will provide “actionable conclusions” by summer this year. These will set the agendas for real programmes and early opportunities for collaboration, which the Member States will have to launch and implement. The CDP will also form a sound basis for future work of the Agency in driving R&T, Armaments Cooperation and Industry activities.

-- This brings me to the second strategic item, the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base or the EDTIB Strategy. Ministers approved the Strategy in May last year, giving direction towards realising a stronger, more competent and more competitive EDTIB. There is now consensus on the need for more interdependence in the European DTIB as well as less dependence on non-European key technologies. The question, of course, is how to get there? The Steering Board in National Armaments Directors formation agreed on a set of roadmaps last September to take the work forward in a practical sense. A crucial activity is to define the key industrial capabilities in Europe, which will also contribute to improving long-term Security of Supply, and, therefore, to increasing European autonomy.

-- The third item, directly connected to EDTIB work, is the European Defence Research & Technology or EDRT Strategy. In the Ministerial Steering Board of 19 November last year the Framework for such a Strategy was approved. It defines broadly what should be elaborated in the EDRT Strategy, both in terms of ‘ends’ (in which R&T to invest) and ‘means’ (how to invest). A central element is the definition key defence technologies, to be preserved or developed in Europe. The list of these key technologies is expected this spring. The full Strategy will be approved by Ministers in the May Steering Board.

-- Fourthly, we need the last piece of the strategies puzzle, an Armaments Strategy. We need this Strategy to develop a clear process how we move from agreed capability needs to cooperative armament programmes. And we also have to look at other aspects, such as to define how a concept for through-life management can be best integrated into such cooperation. Work has started, building on the results of the Cooperative Lessons Learned study, which was financed by the Agency’s operational 4 budget. In 2008, a series of studies and workshops will be organised to elaborate the Strategy, which hopefully can be approved by the autumn Ministerial Steering Board.

Concrete Projects

Strategies are needed – they provide direction and define aims – but, naturally, they themselves do not deliver capabilities. We need concrete programmes and projects to turn theory into practice. This is where I want to see change. Yes, there are examples of early projects. Let me just mention three of them:

1. Software-Defined Radio or SDR, where the Agency is making a significant contribution by connecting the military and civilian efforts to ensure that in the medium-to-longer term this future communication tool is fully interoperable, not only between the military but also between civilian and military users. For that purpose, EDA provides the link between the six European countries working together on military SDR in the so-called ESSOR project and the Commission, which is investing funds under the European Security and Research Programme for civil SDR use;

2. Unmanned Air Vehicles or UAVs have been in the Agency’s Work Programme since the start in 2005. But 2008 will be a milestone year. Why? Because we hope to realise a breakthrough in a topic that nobody so far has tackled in an allinclusive way, namely the insertion of UAVs into regulated air space. This is an issue with many dimensions: legal and regulatory elements – not for the Agency to arrange but which the Agency might bring it to the fore; certification procedures – a standard for certification could be developed by EDA; and, of course, new technologies needed to ensure that UAVs can fly in regulated air space with the same safety guarantees as manned aircraft – such as ‘Sense and Avoid’ technologies, an area where the Agency has early results from a study conducted in the recent past. This coming spring another study will deliver the full picture of what is needed for insertion of UAVs into regulated air space. Based on the study results, EDA will define a business case. This business case 5 will be used to spend €6 million, earmarked in the Agency’s 2008 budget (for the first time ever); and

3. Maritime Surveillance: again a work strand where military and civil needs have to be brought together. The Agency is working both on connecting national networks at the European level but also on defining military requirements for new future assets, such as Maritime Unmanned Air Vehicles.

But, as I said at the beginning, we need more projects to underline that the Agency has started to deliver. I have engaged myself directly to bring two of them under the wing of EDA:

-- Firstly: heavy helicopters. An excellent example where we see a need, both arising from current short-term needs (the continuing shortages in real-life operations) and longer-term requirements to replace the existing fleet beyond 2015. In my former national capacity, I was involved in the German-French cooperation for a future transport helicopter programme. But Germany and France alone cannot afford such a huge programme anymore. So, logically, the bilateral programme – which is an excellent start – has to be brought to the European level to look for more partners. This will help, both to increase standardisation and interoperability but also to share the burden for a much-needed and expensive capability. I am glad to say that both countries have responded positively to my request to bring the programme to EDA; and

-- Secondly: space, in particular observation. A limited number of European countries have observation satellites for military users. The current generation of military observation satellites will come to its end of life in the 2015-2020 timeframe. So, now is the time to look at the next generation and to make an attempt to harmonise requirements. Six European countries are cooperating in the so-called MUSIS group for that purpose. Again, I have suggested bringing the effort under the umbrella of 6 EDA, with the potential to broaden the club. First reactions of the MUSIS countries are positive and I am looking forward to the next steps.

Final Remarks

I haven’t addressed many other works strands of the Agency, such as the implementation of the Code of Conduct on Defence Procurement or Logistics, the theme of the annual EDA Conference this year. If you wish I can go into more detail during the discussion period.

A final remark on deliverables. I have mentioned two projects, for which I have taken the initiative. But, naturally, I am telling the Member States that they should propose other projects for which they see a need to start collaborations with other European partners.

Clearly, when bringing such initiatives to the Agency we need to check if they fit in the capability-driven approach. But we don’t have a shortage of capability shortfalls in Europe. What we lack most is solutions at the European level, instead of continuing along the path of finding purely national answers. That is the Agency’s mission and I will engage myself fully in the next few years to increase European cooperation on capabilities, R&T, armaments and industry.


prev next

Official reports See all