The Reconciliation of Arms Co-operation with Exports
NATO’s Washington Summit Communiqué continues the tradition of all EU, WEU, and NATO summit communiqués of recent years in that it states a strong support for strengthening the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within NATO. It is generally accepted that ESDI requires strengthening European decision-making structures, collective political will, and improvements in European military capabilities. But as such an identity should be based on, at least, some European capabilities to act independently from the US. Strengthening ESDI also rests, to an increasing degree, on Europe’s ability to maintain a competitive defence industrial base that is able to support its political, economic and military objectives. If Europe wants to be a serious partner for the United States in world politics or even pursue an autonomous foreign and military policy, a comprehensive, technologically competent and economically efficient European defence industry is necessary. The main challenges for the development of such a European defence industrial base arise from the downward trend in European defence budgets, the restructuring and rationalisation of the US defence industry and the accompanying competitive pressures in the global market place as well as Europe’s inability to imitate the US approach, that is, to rationalise its own defence industrial base in a European-wide manner.
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