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28 Apr 03. following our article in last moth’s issue HAS OBSTRUCTION TO US WAR IN IRAQ COST EUROPE VITAL ACCESS TO US DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY?, the worries of European executives have been relayed to European Governments. Three leading chief executives of defense and aerospace companies said in a joint letter to European governments Monday that Europe needs greater coordination in its defense policies and to bolster research spending in the field.

The events of 9/11 and recent interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that Europe needs to enhance its defense, Thales SA’s Denis Ranque, BAE Systems PLC’s Mike Turner and EADS NV’s joint CEOs Rainer Hertrich and Philippe Camus said.

While there has been substantial restructuring among European defense contractors in recent years, institutional progress on defense and security policy has been slow, the CEOs said. Further initiatives could be considered to improve the efficiency and interoperability of air combat, naval and land forces within European Union nations and with the U.S., they said.

The CEOs pointed out that defense spending in Europe has lagged that of the U.S. for many years – €40bn compared to $100bn annually – and there needs to be closer cooperation.

The creation of a joint European Armaments and Strategic Research Agency would help bolster research and technology spending in Europe, the CEOs said.

“The creation of such an agency, led by those nations that really want to make progress here and now, would take on massive strategic importance for the future of the European defense industry as it would provide the most integrated platform so far for initiating and developing large scale defense and security programs across Europe on the most cohesive and cost-effective basis,” the letter said.

At present, research and technology funding in the U.S. exceeds that in Europe by a factor of eight, meaning the capaabilities of European nations to conduct joint operations with the U.S. is at risk, they added.

“Backed by consistent budgets, substantive European programs, strong political vision and firm commitments, Europe can preserve a guaranteed security of supply for defense goods and services,” the letter said.

“This is the only way to ensure the autonomous security and defense policy that Europe requires and deserves considering its political and economic weight. This will also pave the way for a sound trans-Atlantic dialogue between partners on a level playing field.”

“Quite simply, now is the time to act, to enhance our budgetary efforts, to harmonize our requirements and integrate our operational forces.”

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