The European defence industry's role in ensuring the EU's strategic independence must come before competitiveness, said security and defence MEPs in their debate on Wednesday with Commissioner Michel Barnier. Mr Barnier called for a new impetus for European defence policy.
The defence industry "is not an industrial sector like others. Its strategic nature makes it a special case and must be taken into account," insisted Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR), chair of Parliament's security and defence subcommittee.
Mr Danjean also stressed the importance of the European summit in December, when member states will discuss security and defence issues, pointing to the responsibility of member states to make it a success.
"If the will to develop European defence is there we must be ready," said Mr Barnier, when he presented the work of the Commission's task force on the defence industry and markets to MEPs.
He singled out the need to make defence markets more open; support SMEs; develop dual civil-military capacities, research, and trade in defence equipment; and explore the role the EU could play in providing European exporters with access to defence markets outside the EU, particularly in the US.
MEPs highlighted the need for a competitive industrial base in Europe to ensure that the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy can continue to deliver despite the current budget constraints.
"In the security and defence industries, no-one else will do what the Europeans do not do for themselves," said Commissioner Barnier.
In the chair: Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR)