22 septembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité, Autre défense

Germany tries to forge a deal on who can play ball in Europe

COLOGNE, Germany — Time is ticking for Germany to find a compromise on letting American, British and other non-European Union countries tap into the bloc's emerging defense cooperation scheme.

The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken on the task of sorting out the issue by the end of the year, when Germany's six-month term at the helm of the European Council concludes.

“It is an important issue to solve, particularly for close NATO partners,” Karl-Heinz Kamp, special envoy of the political director at the German Ministry of Defence, said during a panel discussion at the annual Defense News Conference this month.

The challenge is to find common ground between two camps within the EU: member states seeking ties with outsiders, and those countries who prefer treating the nascent defense agenda as a members-only affair.

Poland, Sweden and the Netherlands are leading a group of nations advocating for openness. But France, for example, is pursuing a more restrictive stance, especially toward Turkey and the United States.

From the beginning, the Trump administration has eyed the EU's creation of a defense cooperation mechanism, dubbed PESCO, and the proposed multibillion-dollar European Defence Fund with a degree of mistrust. The efforts run the risk of undermining NATO if America and its powerful defense companies are kept out, Washington claims.

The tone has softened more recently, however, as officials on both sides of the Atlantic try to broker a compromise.

“One of the things that COVID-19 has really brought into sharp focus is the significance of our integrated defense industrial base,” said Gregory Kausner, executive director for international cooperation, who works in the Pentagon for acquisition chief Ellen Lord.

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, leaders are striking a similar chord.

“We welcome the EU's effort to invest in defense, and I think altogether this is a good-news story. In a way, the more money put into defense, including by EU institutions, the better,” said Camille Grand, the alliance's assistant secretary general for defense investment.

“Then there is a second point: that it is important those projects are allowed as full as possible [the] involvement of non-EU allies. Because the reality is indeed that those non-EU allies have strong connections with the European defense market, with the European defense industry,” Grand added.

German officials have been optimistic about reaching a compromise since they took on the third-country challenge this summer. That is because their proposal piggybacks on a paper by the previous, Finnish-run presidency that was only narrowly rejected last year. A few modifications would be enough to clinch a deal.

According to a German MoD spokesman, officials aim to present a workable solution to defense ministers at an EU foreign affairs council meeting slated for Nov. 20.

Poisoned politics

The current political context hasn't exactly been helpful for forging a deal.

For one, there is the frosty climate between Germany and United States that stems from President Donald Trump's testy relationship with the country, and his assertion that the EU is taking advantage of American taxpayers on trade and defense. That rift makes the proposition of importing the powerful American defense industrial base into the bloc's defense cooperation calculus an uphill battle, especially in the European Parliament, a Brussels-based analyst argued.

And Turkey, which is part of NATO but not the EU, is creating the perfect case study against allowing nonmembers into the inner workings of European defense cooperation because of its dispute with Greece and Cyprus over gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

“The German government is fairly optimistic that we will be able to find a compromise. The problem is that currently neither the Turkish policy nor the U.S. policy terribly helps to find such a consensus,” Kamp said.

“We have a severe problem in NATO with its internal cohesion because some allies have issues with other allies,” he added. “We have a Turkish-French dispute in the Mediterranean and we have a Greek-Turkish dispute. Turkey is not always behaving in — let me say — in the way of an ideal NATO ally, and that just makes things a little bit more difficult.”

At the same time, the flareup has yet to touch the ongoing third-party access negotiations, according to officials and analysts.

“Concerns over dependencies, intellectual property and security predate the standoff between Greece and Turkey," said Yvonni-Stefania Efstathiou, a Greece-based defense analyst.

Meanwhile, Pentagon officials have begun diving into a set of case studies designed to help them think through the nitty-gritty involved in setting up future cooperative programs under an EU umbrella, according to Kausner. “Those case studies illuminate the potential challenges on things such as intellectual property and re-transfer that we feel are still problematic,” the Defense Department official said.

Another avenue to glean lessons for a wider EU application lies in the so-called European Defence Industrial Development Programme, or EDIDP, which aims to boost the bloc's defense industry cooperation through all manners of military technology. In June, the European Commission announced 16 projects eligible for funding from a two-year, €500 million (U.S. $593 million) pot.

The selection includes “four participants controlled by entities from Canada, Japan and the United States,” the commission statement read. In theory, those projects “demonstrate the possibility to involve EU-based subsidiaries controlled by third countries or third country entities provided they fulfill appropriate security-based guarantees approved by Member States,” the statement noted.

The commission has yet to say which participants hail from North America and Japan, and what roles they play, which suggests their integration into the project structure remains unfinished.

As officials continue to sort out the details on intellectual property rights, liabilities and consortium structures, for example, a few principles are beginning to take shape. For one, the four non-EU countries in the European Free Trade Association — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland — stand to get rights to partake in EU defense projects similar to member states.

In addition, officials consider it easier to include British or American companies in projects when they are removed from immediate funding through the European Defence Fund. While European companies have their eyes on possible subsidies from the fund whenever they enter into PESCO agreements, there may not be an automatic funding eligibility for outside participants.


Sur le même sujet

  • USAF Takes Delivery Of A Rebuilt U.S. Army Black Hawk

    16 août 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    USAF Takes Delivery Of A Rebuilt U.S. Army Black Hawk

    Program Will Restore The Pave Hawk Operational Loss Replacement Fleet To Its Authorized Size The first Operational Loss Replacement HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter has been delivered to the U.S. Air Force by the U.S. Army by Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Paul Rauenhorst and Capt. Seth Peterson pilots on Aug. 5, 2019, to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Defense Blog reports that the aircraft is a rebuilt low-hour U.S. Army UH-60L Black Hawk aircraft. “It's a much younger airframe,” Rauenhorst said. “These airframes are from 2001 to 2004 models, where ours sitting on the ramp are 1992 models. These are Army Limas rebuilt to be Golf models.” The HH-60 is the primary SAR helicopter deployed by the Department of Defense. Multiple aircraft have been lost in nearly 18 years deployed in combat operations, and the OLR program is designed to bring the Pave Hawk fleet back to its authorized size, according to the report. Chief Master Sgt. Eric Chester, 176th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent, said that the OLRs will significantly increase the availability for the fleet, as they are lower-time aircraft that will require less maintenance. “The impact of the OLR coming into our wing is huge,” Chester said. “It's a big opportunity for everyone here to be able to take advantage of these new aircraft and reset across the board.” http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=ee00b374-5f9e-4eeb-8664-300e8851226e

  • Has the US Navy thought this new frigate through? New report raises questions.

    10 juillet 2018 | International, Naval

    Has the US Navy thought this new frigate through? New report raises questions.

    By: David B. Larter WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Navy is rapidly moving toward procuring the first hull in its new class of frigate in 2020, but a new report is raising questions about whether the Navy has done detailed analysis about what it needs out of the ship before barging ahead. The Navy may not have done an adequate job of analyzing gaps and capabilities shortfalls before it set itself on a fast-track to buying the so-called FFG(X) as an adaptation from a parent design, said influential Navy analyst Ron O'Rourke in a new Congressional Research Service report. In essence, the CRS report questions whether the Navy looked at what capabilities the service already has in the fleet, what capabilities it's missing and whether the FFG(X) is the optimal solution to address any identified shortfalls. O'Rourke suggests Congress push the Navy on “whether procuring a new class of FFGs is the best or most promising general approach for addressing the identified capability gaps and mission needs, and whether the Navy has performed a formal, rigorous analysis of this issue, as opposed to relying solely on subjective judgments of Navy or [Defense Department] leaders.” ““Subjective judgments, though helpful, can overlook counter-intuitive results regarding the best or most promising general approach,” the report reads. “Potential alternative general approaches for addressing identified capability gaps and mission needs in this instance include (to cite a few possibilities) modified LCSs, FFs, destroyers, aircraft, unmanned vehicles, or some combination of these platforms.” The Navy is looking to adapt its FFG(X) from an existing design such as Fincantieri's FREMM, one of the two existing littoral combat ships or the Coast Guard's national security cutter as a means of getting updated capabilities into a small surface combatant and into the fleet quickly. A better approach, O'Rourke suggests, would be to make a formal, rigorous analysis of alternatives to its current course. Failure to do so has led to a series of setbacks with the Navy's current small surface combatant program, the LCS. “The Navy did not perform a formal, rigorous analysis of this kind prior to announcing the start of the LCS program in November 2001, and this can be viewed as a root cause of much of the debate and controversy that attended the LCS program, and of the program's ultimate restructurings in February 2014 and December 2015,” O'Rourke writes. O'Rourke further suggests the Navy is relying too much on subjective opinions of Navy and Defense Department leaders, instead of a legitimate analysis. And indeed, the Navy has made rapid acquisition of the new ship the hallmark of the program. “Subjective judgments can be helpful, particularly in terms of capturing knowledge and experience that is not easily reduced to numbers, in taking advantage of the ‘wisdom of the crowd,‘ and in coming to conclusions and making decisions quickly,” O'Rourke argues. “On the other hand, a process that relies heavily on subjective judgments can be vulnerable to group-think, can overlook counter-intuitive results regarding capability gaps and mission needs, and, depending on the leaders involved, can emphasize those leaders' understanding of the Navy's needs.” Read the full report here. https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2018/07/09/has-the-us-navy-thought-this-new-frigate-through-new-report-raises-questions/

  • BAE Systems announces partners for Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle design

    1 décembre 2022 | International, Terrestre

    BAE Systems announces partners for Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle design

    BAE Systems and Elbit Systems of America are leveraging their extensive experience in the evaluation, demonstration, and validation of next generation combat systems

Toutes les nouvelles