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Education and training for European defence equipment programmes

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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. Most cooperative programmes are hampered by a lack of mutual understanding between different stakeholders (officials from Member States and EU institutions, industrialists, journalists, academics). The EU does not provide any common education or training to the stakeholders engaged in cooperative programmes, and as a result many of those who collaborate often behave as national representatives only. Participating in a multinational programme without a shared approach and common understanding is bound to lead to problems.  In July 2007, the European Defence Agency (EDA) commissioned a study from the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) on  ‘Enhancing the Mutual Understanding and Competence of Stakeholders Engaged in Cooperative Programmes.’ The sole aim of the project was to identify basic options for training and education of stakeholders in cooperative programmes. The project did not aim or attempt to design a training or education course, including specific aspects such as a curriculum, financing, organisation etc. The project included a mapping of existing education and training organisations that offer courses on ESDP and/or cooperative programmes. The mapping exercise was partly based on a questionnaire sent to stakeholders involved in cooperative programmes, such as defence ministry officials, academics in defence colleges and industrial executives. In April 2008, the EUISS organised a workshop in Paris which brought together selected representatives from the armaments community. Before identifying options for the enhancement of multi-disciplinary education, we wanted to present our initial results to a select group and solicit their recommendations. In May 2008 we presented the preliminary conclusions of the study at a seminar attended by representatives from the participating Member States (pMS) of the EDA in Brussels, to have their feedback and involve them in the final phase. Additionally, from the start of the mapping exercise in September 2007, governments had the possibility to contact us for questions or suggestions. According to the respondents to our questionnaire, European industry executives, officials and programme managers seldom meet before they do business together. Enhancing mutual understanding and competences must start with offering more opportunities to interact and create a basic understanding of a European approach to armaments cooperation. However, it is necessary to build on the existing expertise scattered within the Member States. Overall, the problems surrounding armaments cooperation in Europe derive more from a lack of common understanding than of pure technical knowledge. The recommendations in this report, therefore, are primarily oriented towards developing networks of programme managers and strategic decision-makers across Europe, to help develop mutual understanding in the European armaments community.