The defence industries in Europe are mainly organised at the national level and based on national procurement decisions. A common European defence industrial and technological base (EDTIB) to support a European defence and security policy has not yet materialized.

At the same time, there are a number of developments that could bring about structural changes with public and private employment implications for the sector in Europe. These include the growing constraints on EU Member States’ procurement budgets (the budget austerity resulting from the economic and financial crisis has already led to cuts in defence budgets in some Member States), as well as attempts by the Commission to promote a more open European defence market through new legislation (Directives on defence procurement and on the intra-EU transfer of defence products). The European defence industry is also subject to other pressures and these include competitive pressures from defence producers outside Europe, in first place the United States but also BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

Building on the work of the ad hoc work group on defence, the EMF proposes to establish a permanent defence committee. This committee will monitor EU defence policies as well as developments at the national level. It will work towards a common trade union position on the European defence sector centred on the interests of employees and formulate common demands. Areas of common concern include the special responsibility of national governments and the EU for workers in this sector as these depend on political decisions. Of joint concern also are: the need to develop appropriate industrial and RDI policies for the sector as the basis for sustainable employment, the need for training and lifelong learning policies, the need to establish common European rules for arms exports that reconcile ethical and employment concerns, the need to address the threat of relocation, outsourcing, and others. Work has already started on a new policy paper on the defence sector and the discussion will continue in the new Congress period. The discussion among EMF affiliates over the desired level of European integration in the areas of foreign, security and defence policies will also continue (e.g. Common Security and Defence Policy and European Security and Defence Policy).

The EMF will participate in the ongoing debate with all stakeholders on the industrial development of Europe’s defence sector. In particular, the EMF will remain active in the ‘European defence stakeholder partnership’ between the European Commission, the Aerospace and Defence Industries’ Association (ASD), the EMF and the European Defence Agency. This partnership promotes activities to foster a culture of jointly anticipating change and developing skills in the sector.

As a follow-up to its project on the perspectives of the naval shipbuilding sector in Europe in 2009/2010 organised in the context of the ‘defence partnership’, the EMF will investigate the possibility of analysing the industrial development in other branches of the defence industries (e.g. land systems, defence electronics or aerospace). In this context, it will be important to strengthen trade union expertise by building on the cooperation with external experts. Should other stakeholders organise partnership-related projects the EMF will seek to be involved to advance the interests of European workers.

The EMF will actively foster links between the EMF Sector Committees Aerospace and Shipbuilding and other EMF activities in the area of defence.

For more information please contract Andrea Husen-Bradley, EMF Senior Policy Adviser

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