EU governments are gradually coming around to the idea that they need to open up their defence markets. The European Commission is currently proposing new procurement and trade directives aimed at streamlining defence market legislation. The proposed directives would open up the defence market, improve European cooperation on armaments and lead to a more competitive European defence industry.
It has become a cliché to observe that Europe’s armies need many new military capabilities. But EU governments are still doing very little to remedy the problem. European armed forces struggled to fight alongside the US during the Kosovo war in 1999 because they lacked sophisticated equipment.
As a result EU governments signed up to a number of “headline goals” to improve their military prowess. But it is hard to find much concrete evidence of real improvements in European military equipment over the last decade.
Cooperative programmes do not have a very positive image in some EU Member States because they have often implied delays, unanticipated costs, and long rounds of negotiations between partnering nations. Participating in a multinational programme without a shared approach and common understanding is bound to lead to problems.