European Defence Agency gets word of warning

The EU’s approval of the European Defence Agency comes as the defence industry warns against it becoming a mere “fig leaf”.

The European Defence Agency (EDA) received the final backing
for its legal set-up from the Foreign Affairs Council on 14 June
2004, and will thus get the green light from the European Council
at the Summit on 17-18 June.

The EDA will work in the field of defence
capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments. The
overall idea of the EDA will be to promote coherence in place of
fragmentation in European defence procurement. (see


However, according to the Financial Times,
Europe's three largest defence contractors, BAE Systems of the UK,
Paris-based Thales and Franco-German group EADS (European
Aeronautic Defence and Space Company), will issue a word of

In a statement, they express the fear that if
not given real powers now, there is a risk that the EDA will become
"a fig leaf to cover the nakedness of any real efforts to improve
European defence. Having willed the end, they must now will the
means". The letter is signed by the chief executives of the three
companies which have supported the creation of the EDA.

They argue that the EU can only compete with the
rapidly expanding US defence budget if they consolidate spending
and research budgets.


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