A new bid to open up the EU’s defence market is being put to the test. In a jealously guarded sector, the European Commission is set to adopt measures to introduce more cross-border competition.
All such efforts in the past have met stiff resistance by EU capitals shielding national industries they see as vital to domestic security and jobs.
Ulf Hammerström, at the EU Defence Agency, said these sensitivities must be taken into account: “Market forces will not solve it all. Tanks are not washing machines. But you need also intergovernmental means. So you need both communitarian (civil society) efforts and intergovernmental efforts to create strong defence industry.”
Governments make wide use of EU treaty provisions allowing them to shield contracts from open tender. The Commission suggests this should become the exception rather than the rule. If it gets its way, legal action could be brought in cases where single-market regulations were abused.