Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

For the European Business Summit, the only European industry is “made in the USA”

Announcement for the "defence summit" with the vice-president of Raytheon as a guest star (credit: EBS)

(B2) After remaining in limbo, European defense is now becoming very “trendy”. Being in Brussels and not talking about it is a bit Has Been ". And some therefore encourage themselves today to be interested in it – or at least pretend to be. Evidenced by the meeting organized in Brussels on 4 December by European Business Summit titled neither more nor less "European Defense Industry Summit" to discuss " current security trends and the future of the European defense industry ».

Europeans invited for the gallery

A session which will be opened - it is normal - by three of the personalities most involved in this project, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU, Jorge Domecq, the director of the European Defense Agency, and Elzbieta Bienkowska, commissioner in charge of industry. This gratin is to impress the gallery, but the serious things, the organizers preferred to entrust them to "serious people", with the support of the ATA, the Atlantic Treaty Association.

... and the Americans take the floor for serious matters

In other words, three American manufacturers — Raytheon, UTC and Bell — will be there not only to finance the event (sponsors) but will be present at the three round tables (respectively Chris Lombardi, Rudy Priem and Michael Thacker). To speak at this conference, you have to pay... No European industrialist, of course, was invited to speak... (1). Not serious enough no doubt, or not rich enough?

A few deputy ministers or advisers from very "US friendly" countries (Bulgaria, Lithuania, Sweden, etc.) are there to give the thing an institutional veneer... No representative from Western countries – those most involved in the European industrial core – was of course only invited (2). Normal... This avoids any contradiction.

And, to liven it all up, three renowned journalists from the American and British media (The Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal). They are the ones who know European affairs the best (well, above all financial for the last two). Normal…

Influencing European policy

As for the purpose of the conference, it remains unclear. But underlying the message is very clear. European defense is something serious, too serious for the Europeans to take care of alone, please let the Americans manage it – or at least equip them… And let's not forget: collect money and… buy American. An event organized and financed, which in fact has only one objective: to influence and divide Europeans. We are very far from the objective displayed and sought today, which is the construction, together, of a European industrial model and its reinforcement (3).

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) While the EDA conference held this Thursday, November 23 keeps – as every year – its promise to bring together the cream of the European defense industry, the "EBS" seems determined to exclude them and has the clear ambition to compete with this event organized just a few days earlier.

(2) Apart from the Belgian Minister Didier Reynders who closes the event, but rather comes locally from the stage than by actually intervening.

(3) Let us agree: the United States is an interesting model in terms of defense, and deserves all our political, academic and media attention. It is a truly high-performance model: with its support and training fund, its developed industrial fabric, its fairly rigid export rules such as its rules allowing the export of technologies to be limited and... its clear commercial preference (ultra -protectionist and very little free trader). However, that under this pretext one refourgue the concept “America first” would be at the very least explosive and close to the false illusion.

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).