The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
- is in favour of creating a European Defence Union (EDU) and supports the European Defence Action Plan, including the establishment of a common European Defence Fund.
- calls for significant qualitative progress in European defence cooperation, as the EU's defence market and industry is overly fragmented and causes inefficient allocation of resources, overlapping remits, lack of interoperability and technological gaps.
- supports the objective of strategic autonomy in identified critical capability and technology areas.
- states that a sine qua non for the development of common defence capabilities is to strengthen the European defence industrial and technological base including a highly skilled workforce.
- strongly supports giving special attention to SMEs including in the area of research and development for defence purposes.
- rejects the opening up of existing funds that serve economic or social objectives for defence purposes.
- rejects a special provision for national budgetary resources allocated for defence under the Stability and Growth Pact. Defence expenditure should not destabilize public finances.
- supports the creation of a Defence Fund with separate windows for research and capabilities. However, the EU budget has to be increased, as the research window for defence must not be financed at the expense of research in other sectors. The EESC is in favour of the capability window being financed solely by national contributions. The procurement of defence products by Member States cannot be financed from the EU budget.