Enhancing European security by strengthening transatlantic ties

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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Despite challenges for EU-US trade relations in the wake of increased US domestic priorities, preserving and developing transatlantic defence cooperation remains at the top of the agenda for the European Union and United States. In fact, the Pentagon’s National Defence Strategy specifically calls for increased international partnerships and cooperation.

Chris Lombardi is Vice President of European Business Development at Raytheon.

EU-US defence cooperation is deeply entrenched in transatlantic history and cemented by our unshakeable common values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. We have the same global security goals and shared perspectives in combatting threats. From non-state actors in the Middle East to growing threats from Russia, both the EU and US recognize that the most effective way to counter emerging hybrid threats is to work closely together and align military capabilities and operational readiness.

This year, the EU has launched two timely initiatives, the European Defence Fund (EDF) and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), both proposing increased investment in defence and new cooperative opportunities to develop advanced defence capabilities.

At the signing of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker underlined that these initiatives were not protectionist measures to bolster Europe’s defence industry or to cut security and defence ties with the US and other allied countries. He said the EU’s aim was “strategic autonomy”, which benefits both Europe and NATO by increasing defence budgets in sovereign countries. President Juncker also emphasized the importance of alignment, highlighting that “NATO and the European Union are the most natural of partners”, especially in times of heightened insecurity.

In addition, technological advances have provided terrorists and non-state actors with access to deadly capabilities. Instability is increasing globally and the spectrum of threats facing European countries is increasingly transnational in nature. More than ever, these types of attacks demand a coordinated and cohesive transatlantic response.

The Brussels Declaration demonstrates the commitment of NATO and EU leaders to work together to defend their shared values and interests, and maintain a united front in countering unprecedented hybrid threats. It confirms that any differences between the EU and US in politics or business won’t overshadow our strategic relationship, especially when it comes to the existential threats in defence and security.

Raytheon has a long history of fostering and supporting cooperation within NATO and allied countries. Beyond providing state-of-the art defence technology, such as Patriot, Raytheon helps deepen the transatlantic partnership between the US and its allies by acting as a strategic partner.

For example, Raytheon has worked with Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, Norway’s main supplier of defence and aerospace-related systems, for 50 years. This has not only enabled us to provide defence and security solutions for Norway, but also in the US, Spain, the Netherlands, and other NATO allies facing common threats.

The thousands of people − military and civilian − that we work together with every day on both continents are the very embodiment of the transatlantic alliance.

We have also partnered with Rheinmetall, a market leader in integrated defence technology, to develop and expand the Patriot Integrated Air Defence Missile System in Germany. Our transatlantic partners and suppliers, often small and medium enterprises, come from many other European countries including Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Romania. To date, 66 percent of Raytheon’s international partnerships are with European companies and the network continues to grow significantly.

We look forward to discussing the future of transatlantic defence cooperation at this week’s seminar in Brussels hosted by the German Marshall Fund. We will address questions such as the impact that PESCO will have for the transatlantic defence industry and what Europe must do to achieve strategic autonomy.

As Europe continues to enhance its security and defence, the transatlantic industrial partnerships that Raytheon has developed for decades are a model for future cooperation and joint programs. We believe that these partnerships are the foundation for a stronger, more secure and more resilient Europe.

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