EU to Unveil Plans to Integrate Defense Industry

EU to Unveil Plans to Integrate Defense Industry

The sector provides 400,000 jobs and generated sales of $115 billion in 2010.

BRUSSELS -- Top EU officials will next week set out a series of recommendations aimed at boosting Europe's fragmented and cash-strapped defense industry.

The sector provides some 400,000 jobs and generated turnover of around 90 billion euros (US$115 billion) in 2010, according to the European Union.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier and his EU Industry counterpart Antonio Tajani will set out their plans on Wednesday.

Barnier said Thursday that sharp cuts to government budgets due to the debt crisis make it imperative that research, technology, manufacturing and procurement all be better integrated to make the money go further.

Special EU rules which allow governments to close off sensitive areas will also be addressed in a package of proposals to be submitted to an EU leaders summit in December dedicated to defense.

"We have taken our competences right to the limit at the Commission to come up with this proposal," Barnier said.

The objective is to "identify areas where Europe can develop its own capacities," he said, highlighting dual military and civilian applications.

"For example, Europe should build its own drones, rather than importing them," he said, suggesting that it could also buy aircraft or navy refueling systems for pooled use by EU member states, and integrate cyber or maritime security networks.

"European defense can't just be about French-British cooperation," Barnier said, referring to a strategic resource-sharing deal agreed by London and Paris.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013

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