EESC calls for rapid implementation of EU synergies between civil, defence and space industries

The European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the proposed EU Action Plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries. The action plan can enhance Europe's strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty, improve the public security and boost competitiveness, economic growth and employment. Therefore, the EESC calls for rapid, forceful and ambitious implementation of the 11 actions set out in a Plan.

The EESC has adopted an opinion on the EU action plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries, giving its take on the European Commission's Action Plan, which is set to improve synergies between EU-funded instruments, while facilitating cross-fertilisation between the civil, defence and space industries.

One of the most important and longest lasting innovations in the automobile industry originated in the defence industry here in Europe. After working on ejector seats in fighter jets for a European aeronautics company, Nils Ivar Bohlin, a Swedish mechanical engineer, went on to design a new seat belt for a European car company. Inspired by the harness jet pilots used, the three-point seat belt became a global standard in the car industry and has saved more than one million lives since its introduction.

The EESC considers the Action Plan to be a pillar in the EU's industrial strategy, and this example illustrates how it can ensure cross-fertilisation between the civil, defence and space industries and can focus on improving the crucial link between space, defence and security.

''Among other things, one key priority should be the adoption of new digital and other emerging technologies in defence and security", said the rapporteur for the opinion, Manuel Garcia Salgado. "To facilitate this, it should be ensured that relevant civil initiatives take into account defence and security requirements from the outset; this will also help optimise the scope and efficiency of defence- and security-specific funding instruments."

Diversity is essential for innovation, including in the defence and space industries. The EESC therefore calls for greater inclusion of women and young people, through recruitment, staff retention and promotion policies.

"Europe today is a global leader in technology, but this leadership is increasingly being challenged by massive investment from the US and China in new digital and other emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, Blockchain, etc.", says co-rapporteur, Jan Pie. "This challenges Europe's competitiveness, but also its autonomy in strategic sectors like security or defence.''

''The topic is definitely an example of how to pursue healthy, non-aggressive technological sovereignty'', says Pietro de Lotto, president of the EESC's Consultative Commission on Industrial Change. (ks)