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The European Defense Agency finds a new lease of life

(BRUSSELS2) The single sky (Sesar...), space surveillance (GMES...), the radioelectric spectrum, the directives for defense markets, so many (civilian) projects of the European Union which have significant repercussions on the military whether in terms of training, technical adaptation, procedure or ... budget.

A "considerable impact" of civil standards

The military often believe they are immune to civilian regulations. However, it is not. They are affected by many standards being implemented, such as air traffic control (with Eurocontrol), those of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Anything that flies – helicopters, drones, fighter planes including NATO C17s or Awacs – could be affected. " The impact is considerable ". Another sensitive issue: the reform of the radio spectrum, which will lead to a redistribution of radio frequencies and a loss of bands for the military.

Understand the constraints of each other

It is therefore necessary to find an intermediary who understands both the constraints of the military, their needs, who can share a degree of confidentiality with them and who is also able to understand and grasp all the subtleties of European regulations, whether in some way "connected" to the European circuit. It is around these issues - already addressed by the Agency in the past but in a fragmented way - that the new Director of the Agency, Claude-France Arnould wants, in a way, to strengthen the agency, to make it find a second youth. A function which indeed seems to us more easily understandable and justifiable both in the eyes of the Member States and the military.

At the confluence of the military and the civilian

The European Defense Agency should become, as its officials describe it, the " place where needs, constraints and contributions that the military can make to community initiatives are identifieds”. It will thus find itself at the confluence of the civilian and the military. It is necessary " inform the military community of the various regulations in force », assess the problems that arise and then define a « consolidated position on each of the technical issues”. This will require " strengthen ties » with players to whom the military are unaccustomed (and vice-versa), such as Coreper 1 (traditionally responsible for issues of the internal market, transport, the environment, etc.).

Transcribe the defense package

This new role for the Agency should also play a full role in the Defense package. " Ministries must be helped to understand and integrate the content of the directive, the Community procedures ". Thus a seminar on article 346 (the exception of sovereignty which makes it possible to free oneself from community rules) has just been organized (last Wednesday). We know that States must give reasons when they raise this exception. " You have to find the right level of motivation, but not to the point of entering into confidential considerations ". A dialogue with the European Commission has been initiated to find the right balance between an application of Article 346 in accordance with the Treaty and in accordance with the interests of European defence.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).