Drone manufacturing industry: a case study to assess the outcome in a strategic sector of the different policies in place to enhance European strategic autonomy

EESC section opinion: Drone manufacturing industry: a case study to assess the outcome in a strategic sector of the different policies in place to enhance European strategic autonomy

The EESC:

  • believes that the connection of the European Drone Strategy with the European Defence Industrial Strategy and the integration of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) to support domestic production of high quality/capacity drones by way of a steady flow of procurement contracts is essential for Europe’s critical independence;
  • continues to advocate improved collaboration and innovation and leveraging legislation like the AI Act and Chips Act to enhance strategic autonomy and bolster national security and economic growth;
  • emphasises that the need for coherence between military and civilian R&D will only grow as drones will use more automation, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI);
  • believes that a strategic Drone Technology Roadmap for Europe is essential for critical drone technologies and dual-use drone systems likely to provide a structured approach to advancing drone technology;
  • emphasises that thorough consideration should be given to financially supporting potential investments in drone production and in integrating supply and value chains;
  • stresses that the EU should engage more actively at the global level, especially with regards to certification procedures;
  • notes that societal acceptance of innovative air mobility operations is of the essence: EU support can bolster the overall aviation ecosystem, contributing to its growth and sustainability;
  • stresses that the EU should also be prepared to create a consolidated strategy on developing a common counter-drone umbrella to face multiple risks related to hybrid threats, terrorist actions, aggression from other states, and even abuse at civilian level.