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Interviews. A DG Defense at the Commission would be devilishly effective (O. Martin)

(B2) For Olivier Martin, Secretary General of MBDA, the European Defense Fund is a great initiative. However, care must be taken to give it an extra strategic soul and provide the European executive with a general direction dedicated to defense issues.

From left to right: Olivier Martin (MBDA), Alain Alexis (DG GROW), Nathalie Errard (Airbus), Jean Louis Gregorin (JEDI), Laurent Brisset (Sorbonne) and Fanny Coulomb (CESICE) (Credit: Sorbonne/IREDIES)

The head of the Franco-British missileer spoke during the 2nd European defense talks on May 16 at Paris I Sorbonne University.

The European Defense Fund, a good idea to mature

The principles of the European Defense Fund (or EDF) go into the “ common sense for the secretary general of MBDA. Namely that of " strategic autonomy " and some " sovereignty ". The established eligibility rules are “ totally satisfactory ". While preparatory actions have recently been launched, " we should see soon if what has been hoped for will actually come into practice ". However, there is still a long way to go.

The need for strategic will

The Fund is just a tool. He " needs strategic and political will ". What will perhaps prove difficult after Brexit when “ few countries " in Europe adhere to the idea of ​​strategic autonomy and that one of the few who understands this idea well, with France, " it's just the UK ". And to concretize the efforts, we must have European defense industrial champions ". The European market remains weak indeed. It only represents 15 or 20% of the world market ».

A mandatory DG Defense at the European Commission

Finally, the effectiveness of the European Commission in the management of defense instruments must be improved. For Olivier Martin, it is clear that the creation of “ a purely defense DG [directorate general] » or on the agenda of the future Commission (set up this summer or in the fall). The interest is to have a body which takes into account “ the specificity of the defense market compared to the civilian market ". Because " buying defense equipment is not the same as buying cars ". If a fully autonomous general management is not an option, " we can imagine a sub-DG defense ».

Take advantage of achievements and experiences

Furthermore, it would be desirable "that this potential general management benefits" achievements and experiences » European organizations that already work on defense cooperation, notably the European Defense Agency (EDA) and Occar (the joint organization for arms cooperation). “ Managing an armaments program is a profession ».

(Coline Traverson, st.)

Read also: European defense talks 2019 (1): a 'grand strategy' for Europe (J. Howorth)

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