Member nations have over 100 opportunities for multinational cooperation in defence, the first EU strategic Coordinated Review on annual Defence (CARD) Review has found.
The review, developed by the European Defence Agency, the EU External Action Service and the EU Military Staff, was presented to the bloc’s defence ministers on 20 November. It is a first attempt to take stock of the European defence landscape, and to find a way forward based on the needs and capabilities of individual countries.
According to the seven-page document, there are currently 55 opportunities for joint development across the various military domains, which could improve “the European capability landscape, provide operational benefits and support EU’s strategic autonomy.”
Seventeen focus on the land domain, 14 the air, 12 maritime, three cyberspace, four space and five address the ‘joint’ and ‘enabler’ domains. The review also highlighted 56 additional collaborative opportunities for research and technology.
In line with member states’ planning and interests, the report also identifies six ‘next-generation capabilities,’ where there is “good potential” for cooperation among member states.
• A joint development and acquisition of a next-generation Main Battle Tank by 2030, and short-term upgrades, allowing a “30% reduction of types and variants [...] by the mid-2030s.” Eleven countries have so far expressed interest in this cooperation;
• The development of European Patrol Class Surface Ship and an EU-wide approach to modular naval platforms. Potential for cooperation lies in joint off-the-shelf procurement, common logistics for similar vessels, and common future functional requirements were found. Seven nations have expressed interest;
• Modernisation of soldier systems in the short term, through joint procurement of existing systems and a user group for Joint Virtual Training and Exercises using common IT tools and, by the mid-2020s, development of shared architectures for all subsystems using cutting-edge technology. Ten countries expressed an interest in this cooperation;
• Development of a European capability to counter unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to improve force protection, as well as contributing to establishing a European standard for Anti Access/Area Denial (A2/AD);
• Closer European collaboration in space; and
• More cooperation on military mobility programmes, “notably air and sea lift transportation, logistic facilities and increased resilience of related IT systems and processes under hybrid warfare conditions by the mid-2020s.”
These suggestions must be seen as a way forward for EU defence, which to date has failed to resolve its major problems. Indeed, as the document highlights, EU defence “continues to be fragmented and lacks coherence in several aspects,” while participation in EU missions also appears to be very low, as personnel engaged represent 7% of all the operations.
The need for more tangible outcomes is also highlighted in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) Strategic Review 2020, which was also presented to ministers. This highlights 26 projects which will become “fully operational” by 2025, including the European Secure Software-defined Radio (ESSOR) and military mobility.
Caterina Tani reporting from Brussels for MON