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.
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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.
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
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.
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.
The strategic and geopolitical environment is rapidly and constantly evolving. The world’s balance of power is shifting as new centres of gravity are emerging and the US is rebalancing its strategic focus towards Asia. In this situation, Europe has to assume greater responsibilities for its security at home and abroad. To punch its weight, the EU needs to develop a credible CSDP. This evolution must be fully compatible with NATO and its principles.
The world is subject to rapid geopolitical change. The dominant position of the Western world is being challenged both economically and politically. While defence budgets across the European Union are being cut, defence spending in China, India, Brazil, Russia and others is going up. Therefore the EESC calls on the Council and the Commission to make an overall evaluation of determining aspects of the EU's position and role in the world, to result in a convincing update of European foreign, security and defence policies.