(B2 – archives) Defence ministers are expected to adopt the European Defence Agency’s budget of 32 million euros for 2008 on 19 November. This enrages supporters of European defence such as France and Belgium.
The European Defence Agency, which was to be “the daughter of St Malo (the agreement between the French and British in 1998 to relaunch European Defence) and the witness of exemplary cooperation between the United Kingdom and France, will not have the necessary means of functioning”, explains a French diplomat. “The Agency is barely maintained at the waterline level. It is deprived of real capacity and ambition, especially in terms of operational budgets”.
British and Dutch opposition
The United Kingdom in particular, but also the Netherlands, opposed further funding for the Agency, considering that “the Agency has not proved its usefulness and that the projects submitted are not worthy of interest”. Profoundly prejudicial to the interests of St Malo. “What the British, and to a lesser extent the Dutch, agree to is a budget that is barely functional. “There is a “very dogmatic side to the British position and a strange one in comparison to Milliband’s speech in Bruges, which was more open and enterprising on [European] defence and armaments cooperation. “For the third year running, the agency cannot be given a multiannual budget to undertake operational work and to programme more consistently. »
No multi-year budget
According to the draft decision, the budget would have been defined on a multiannual basis: 32 million euros in 2008, 37 million euros in 2009 and 42 million euros in 2010. Of this budget, 20 million is allocated to operations in 2008, 6 million for operational activities, of which 1 million is “frozen” and 6 million for specific projects (in particular UAVs). In 2009, these sums were 22 million, 7 million and 8 million respectively. In 2010, they reached 24 million, 9 million and 8 million respectively for projects.
A strategy for the EDTIB
In addition to adopting this budget, the Ministers will also take note of the Agency’s activity report. They should thus welcome the progress made in drawing up a capabilities development plan, the establishment of a strategy to develop the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB), the agreement to strengthen cooperation in support of the armaments strategy to be developed in 2008. They should also welcome the effective functioning of the defence procurement system, through the introduction of the electronic bulletin, the adoption of a code of conduct aimed at improving cooperation between member states and reducing overcapacity, and the successful implementation of the first joint research and technology programme.
Article published in a first version in Europolitics on 19 November 2007 and completed.