PESCO, industry and technology

posted 6 Sep 2017, 02:32 by Jan Wind   [ updated 25 Sep 2017, 15:31 ]
It seems that the plans revolving around PESCO stimulate intentions for requirements harmonisation and synchronisation as well as a stronger urge to stimulate European technological independence by a buy European policy.

From a technological perspective I have a few doubts whether this policy will be as effective as is promoted:

A. Europe should be very careful to focus on strict harmonisation and synchronisation of requirements. This has a few positive effect, but also quite negative consequences:

  1. Technology and systems development will tend to focus on a specific harmonised project rather than being a gradual flow of developments. This means that peaks – and  deep valleys – in development may occur. These peaks are focused on a specific harmonised project and neglect other technology developments that may be very important. 

  2. Harmonised technologies will lead to specialisation and monopolies. Companies or technologies with a slightly different approach will be moved out of business due to lack of contracts and work. It is important for Europe to retain a certain diversity in industry and technological solutions. 

  3. Harmonised technology used by all Member States can only be produced by large companies and push all – much desired - activities in SMEs and other small companies out of business. 

For these reasons we have advocated so called “asynchronous development” in our comments on the recent reflection paper of the Commission. This modular approach allows industries to develop smaller sized (sub)systems that can be used and replaced side by side with similar (sub)systems. This will cause a more gradual technology development and regular technology updates in systems. It will also enable SMEs and larger companies in all member states to compete and provide our forces with excellent technology. We need to retain some diversity in European technologies.

B. Europe should be very careful to strive for technological independence with a “buy European” approach. While we detest this type of policy anywhere else in the world, we should not copy this into Europe. This will lead to isolation and polarization within NATO and other alliances. It also will lock us Europeans out of information on scientific and technology developments elsewhere. That would be devastating for science.
European strategic autonomy should be based on the ability to be independent, technologically more advanced and competitive, but should not inherently stimulate isolation.

Jan Wind
President EDTA