All Member States, with the exception of the United Kingdom, Denmark and Malta, have decided to launch permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), pursuant to Section 2 (Articles 42 to 46) and Protocols 10 and 11 to the TEU. The will to introduce a type of differentiated integration has arisen as a political response to the demand from European citizens for greater security. It is a clear message of support for the common values of the Treaty of Rome, particularly now, at a time when the memory of the historical values of peace and cooperation that drove the peoples of the founding Member States to respond unanimously to the horrendous wounds of two world wars is fading in many Member States.
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Defence and Aeronautics
Despite several initiatives over the past years, the landscape of the European defence industry is characterised by insufficient levels and quality of investment in the development and procurement of future capabilities. Member States are not cooperating enough, with more than 80% of procurement and more than 90% of Research and Technology run on a national basis. A high degree of fragmentation remains, with 178 different weapon systems in Europe compared to 30 in the US. Too little coordination in defence planning leads to an inefficient use of taxpayers' money, unnecessary duplication and suboptimal deployability of defence forces. There are wide differences in the level of defence spending between Member States. Enhanced solidarity, including through the involvement of the EU budget, is needed to deliver common defence capabilities.
The European defence policy was identified as a key political priority in President Juncker's political guidelines of July 2014. This should be also viewed in connection with the fact that after decades of peace and stability, the Union is facing increased instability and new emerging security threats. This changing security environment demonstrated in a clear way that only through joint efforts in investing in security development and cooperation at all levels can we deliver on the expectations of Union citizens and our partners. For Europe to take over more responsibility for its defence, it is crucial to improve competitiveness and enhance innovation across the Union defence industry.
EESC supports Common Internal Market of Defence Industry
It is essential for the EU to continue pursuing preventive and multilateral diplomacy, but at the same time Europe needs to strengthen its military defence capabilities in order to guarantee freedom and peace in Europe, says the EESC.
President Juncker stressed in his 2016 State of the Union Speech the need for a Europe that protects, empowers and defends. Taking greater responsibility for their security means that Europeans must invest in the development of key defence capabilities to be able to deter, respond and protect themselves against external threats. The European Union must demonstrate that it can act as a provider of hard as well as soft security, addressing calls for greater solidarity in security and defence. The Bratislava roadmap, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have also recently underlined this priority.
Position of the Council at first reading with a view to the adoption of a Directive of the EP and of the Council concerning measures for a high common level of security of network and information systems across the Union
By 2050, various different aircraft categories are expected to be operating in European civil aviation, diverse in size, performance and type, with some still having a pilot on board, but many remotely piloted or fully automated. The European Commission has adopted this Communication in order to provide guidelines for opening the European market for remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) – in other words the civilian use of drones.
The Communication has the primary objective of establishing a single RPAS market able to reap the societal benefits of this innovative technology, and to dealing appropriately with citizens' related concerns.
Europe is badly lacking stronger cooperation in the area of defence: there is no coherent, unified European position in crisis situations, and a lot of resources are wasted due to overlapping capacities.
The European Commission adopted on 20 February 2014 the new guidelines on how Member States can support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules. The guidelines are aimed at ensuring good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, while minimising distortions of competition in the Single Market. They are part of the Commission's State Aid Modernisation (SAM) strategy, which aims at fostering growth in the Single Market by encouraging more effective aid measures and focusing the Commission’s scrutiny on cases with the biggest impact on competition.
With the publication of the draft of the revised state aid rules for the public funding of airports and start-up aid to airlines on 3 July 2013, state aid in aviation is back on the EU's policy agenda. Bearing the title "Aviation – Does it need state aid?", our conference will not only look into these revised state aid rules, but it will also go further and concentrate on broader state aid related issues.