Results of the European Defence Conference 2011 - press release

posted 3 Nov 2011, 07:22 by Jan Wind   [ updated 3 Nov 2011, 07:22 ]
The European Defence Conference 2011 took place on 20 and 21 October 2011 in Warsaw and provided opportunities for a broad range of discussion on European defence co-operation from the perspective of research and development. In addition to that, researchers from various EU-countries presented some of their work and ideas for future co-operation. This first edition of the conference, organized by Fraunhofer INT and WISER Consultancy, gathered some 130 participants and was opened by the Polish Undersecretary for Defence Policy, Mr. Zbigniew Wlosowicz.

Among the topics and issues discussed were:
  • Need to adopt Smart defence – specialisation of countries in military tasks and multinational solutions to equipment needs;
  • Importance of consultation with partner nations on cuts in national defence structures before final decisions are made – already too frequent an occurrence;
  • Need for improved top level political engagement on European defence issues – industry should raise this with governments and on parliamentary level.
  • Further improvements in information sharing across the community, with some specific policy help and advice for smaller countries;
  • Less involved pMS and SMEs expressed interest in regional workshops to educate and inform them on how to get involved in defence business; this was said in the context of not being able to get to Brussels easily and often.
  • Industry would like to see more intelligent competition in procurement – not just competition at every opportunity
  • SMEs could be assisted by adopting an engagement strategy based on best practice – ESA was given as a “best practice” example. This should be complemented by a competence database for SMEs using an effective and proven software package.
  • Technology forecast: EDA expressed interest in the Disruptive Technology Assessment Game (DTAG) developed by NATO
The conference was well received by participants. Mr. Adam Sowa, Deputy Chief Executive of EDA and key note speaker, commented that the EDC was a very well organized and useful conference and that constructive minds had been at work. Dr. Albert van der Steen of TNO who chaired one of the sessions said that he used to believe a conference like EDC should be organised by EDA, but that the event had convinced him that an independently organised conference could be much more effective. A NATO representative also remarked they would increase their participation should a future edition be held. Captain RNLNavy Jan Wind (Rtd) of WISER Consultancy and Dr. Merle Missoweit of Fraunhofer INT speaking on behalf the organising committee said they were very pleased with the outcome of the conference: “During this first EDC, excellent speakers and a knowledgeable audience stimulated discussions in a constructive atmosphere as we had intended. I heard nothing but positive feedback these last two days. Our team will work with EDA, ASD and others to determine how to follow up on this first EDC.”

Key note speakers included Mr Adam Sowa, who spoke about the development of the Agency and its current direction; Lieutenant General Ton van Osch, Director General of the EU Military Staff who explained the EUMS role as a component part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to crisis response and gave his view on the difficulties ahead for future military equipment requirements. Mr Krzysztof Lisek, Member of the European Parliament and Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee for Security and Defence (SEDE) was unable to attend but made a video address to the conference and invited attendees to contact him directly on any follow up questions. It was clear to the audience that Mr Lisek and his committee colleagues were taking a close interest in the development of the defence industry market and were well briefed on the issues. Mr Christian-Peter Prinz zu Waldeck, managing director of the Federal Association of German Security and Defence Industry gave an industry view on future co-operation. For more information and a video capture of these keynote speeches visit www.defenceconference.eu

Panel discussions on multilateral defence co-operation policies, technology trends and forecasts and the relevance of the EU security research programme for defence offered views from experienced practitioners under the chairmanship respectively of Dr Hilmar Linnenkamp, former EDA Deputy Chief Executive; Michel Rademaker of the Netherlands HCSS and Dr Albert van der Steen of TNO. The conference also provided opportunity for debating issues around EDA policy and tools for co-operation in R&T, encouraging participation of the member states currently less involved in defence and SMEs and bridging defence and civil sector research and innovation in Europe. A briefing was given jointly by EDA and ASD on European technology non-dependency and the important work in progress to identify weaknesses in sources of supply for components of military systems. In separate sessions a series of short presentations were given on research topics completed and planned in an attempt to attract wider collaborative support for the work.

The EDC Executive Team,
Jan Wind, WISER Consultancy (NL)
Merle Missoweit, Fraunhofer INT (GE)