EUROPEAN DEFENCE AGENCYSTEERING
BOARD MEETING, MAY 2006
Letter from Rt Hon John Reid MP, Secretary
of State for Defence, Ministry of Defence to the Chairman
The next European Defence Agency (EDA) Steering
Board meeting is due to take place on 15 May. I would therefore
like to inform you of the main items I expect to be discussed
at this meeting. I also enclose for your information the draft
agenda and draft papers that have been circulated by the EDA (not
printed). The final papers for this meeting will be issued by
the Agency during the week beginning 8 May, thus I am not able
to provide these to you at present.
There is one item for agreement by the Steering
Board as an administrative point, without discussion at the meeting.
This is for the approval of the Code of Best Practice in the Supply
Chain, which is a supplementary element of the Code of Conduct
for Defence Procurement. Following positive discussions with UK
Industry on the draft EDA proposal I intend to allow this to pass
at the Steering Board.
There are two particular issues of note for
the defence R&T agenda item. First, the Agency has recommended
that the Steering Board approves the EDA's blue print for a new
vehicle for Joint investment in Defence R&T. We received the
Agency's proposal rather late in the day and will need to work
through some of the details before we are in a position to formally
endorse this approach. I would want to be satisfied that MoD experts
were content with the arrangement for this new funding mechanism
before giving my approval. Instead, noting that the EDA's proposals
on the Force Protection programme of work will not be available
until June, I will propose that participating Member States continue
to work with the EDA on both the funding mechanism and the work
programme in parallel. When both have been finalised, participating
Member States will be able to decide whether there is merit in
participating in the Force Protection work using the new joint
The second issue concerns the data on defence
R&T spending and the suggested targets for participating Member
States to achieve collectively. I am firmly of the belief that
Europe needs to spend more on defence R&T. The EDA recommendation
is to set a collective target for defence R&T to reach 3%
of total participating Member States defence spending by 2010.
This would be a substantial increase on the current figure of
less than 1.5%. l will therefore want to use this opportunity
to discuss with fellow Ministers whether it is right to set such
a challenging target.
The EDA have also suggested setting a collective
target for 20% of defence R&T money to be spent collaboratively
within Europe, by 2010. I will want to discuss with fellow Ministers
whether there is merit in setting such a target in this area.
The UK policy will continue to be to collaborate with European
and non European nations on the basis of common military requirements
and access to the best scientific knowledge. I will make the point
that the only way to increase defence R&T collaboration in
Europe will be to firstly ensure that participating Member States
have harmonised military requirements. I will also explain our
reservations about setting a target that takes no account of our
extensive cooperation with states outside the EU.
On the capabilities agenda item I will reiterate
that MoD will continue to engage in the various EDA work strands
where appropriate. However, I will resist the proposal that the
Commission should be involved in the funding of civilian airlift
for ESDP operations. The Commission has no competence in ESDP
and I do not believe it should not be asked jointly to fund this
The armoured fighting vehicle agenda item will
be used to discuss the progress the EDA has made in this area,
particularly their 5 proposed feasibility studies. MoD experts
are currently considering these proposals in light of the work
already taking place with respect to the UK Future Rapid Effects
System programme. Before the UK commits to those studies in which
we have indicated an interest we will want to ensure that the
output from the studies would not duplicate work already under
way in the UK, was aligned with UK needs and represented value
The EDA has also proposed that the R&T Directors
Steering Board and the National Armaments Directors Steering Board
be amalgamated to help make EDA activity more manageable. I will
support the moves to reduce the number of Steering Boards but
would wish to be assured that there will continue to be proper
oversight and management whichever Steering Boards are amalgamated.
Finally, I agreed last May to submit to Parliament
the EDA's report to the Council detailing its activities during
the previous and current year (article 4.2a of the Joint Action
establishing the Agency). It appears that the EDA will not issue
this report until some time during the week on 5 May. I will endeavour
to pass this on to you before your meetings during that week so
that you may have sight of it before it is noted at the Council
on 15 May. However, this may not be possible, due to the short
timescales involved. In this event I will enclose the report with
the letter I intend to send to you reporting on the outcome of
the 15 May Steering Board.
4 May 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Des
Browne MP, Secretary of State for Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth
I am writing in response to the letter from
your predecessor, John Reid, dated 4 May 2006. Sub-Committee C
considered the letter at its meeting on 11 May.
We would like to make a number of points concerning
the issues raised in the letter.
Code of Best Practice in the Supply ChainWe
welcome the draft Code and note that it is voluntary and complementary
to any national procedures, with such procedures taking precedence.
We consider that the ability of buyers to limit the number of
suppliers invited to tender on the basis of optimum economy constitutes
a very general opt-out which could be used by buyers to undermine
the principles of the Code. Accordingly we ask to be kept informed
as to the EDA's assessment of compliance with the Code by subscribing
Joint investment in defence R&TWe
consider that it is necessary to agree a financing mechanism before
any work on the Force Protection Programme can be carried out.
We therefore urge you to press for agreement on a blue-print at
the 15 May meeting.
Collective targets for defence R&TWe
agree that Europe needs to spend more on defence R&T and believe
that a target should be set in order to encourage increased spending.
However, we also agree that 3% of total defence spending is a
challenging target and accept that a more realistic target might
need to be set at this stage. We also agree with your comments
on the target of 20% of defence R&T to be spent collaboratively
at the European level by 2010. It is important to take account
of cooperation with states outside the European Union. However,
whilst we agree that no such target should be set, we will continue
to press for further collaboration on R&T between the participating
CapabilitiesFurther to our previous
point, it is necessary to ensure that collaboration on defence
R&T, where the Member States are closely involved, is not
impeded by questions of competence. The Commission has a clear
role to play in civilian crisis management and collaborative research
on dual-use technology would be beneficial. The letter states
that you will resist the proposal that the Commission should be
involved in the funding of civilian airlift for ESDP operations,
arguing that the Commission has no competence in ESDP. We do not
agree with this interpretation of the EDA's proposal. The EDA's
proposal states that "there might also be interest in a parallel
arrangement for assumed access to conventional civil air transport,
for both ESDP and disaster relief purposes, jointly funded by
the Commission and pMS." This does not state that the Commission
would be co-funding ESDP research, rather that civil air lift
is necessary for both ESDP (pMS responsibility) and disaster relief
(where the Commission has competence), therefore it would be a
suitable case for joint funding. We agree with the EDA's proposal.
Feasibility studies on Armoured Fighting
Vehicles (AFVs)We agree with the approach taken by
the UK Government to these studies and support the reservation
given in the letter concerning the potential for duplication of
work already being carried out within the UK.
Reduction of Steering Board compositions
and meetingsWe agree with the proposed reductions and
ask to be kept informed on the management of the Steering Boards
following their amalgamation.
12 May 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Des Browne MP to the
You will be aware that the Ministerial Steering
Board for the European Defence Agency (EDA) met in Brussels on
15 May. Prior to this meeting John Reid wrote to you with the
agenda, draft papers and an outline of the likely points of discussion.
I was grateful for the responses I received from Michael Connarty
(letter dated 8 May) and Lord Grenfell (letter dated 12 May).
I am now writing to inform you of the outcome of this meeting.
I enclose the final versions of the papers that
were considered at the 15 May Steering Board (not printed). The
main changes were that the items on armoured fighting vehicles
and the proposals to reduce the number of Steering Boards were
removed from the agenda for the 15 May meeting and so were not
considered by Ministers. Similarly the proposal on assured access
arrangements for civil airlift on the basis of joint funding by
Commission and participating Member States was removed from the
"Hampton Court Capabilities paper", and not therefore
considered by Ministers.
I also enclose a commentary that outlines the
discussions that took place on 15 May (not printed) and picks
up on a number of points raised by Lord Grenfell and Michael Connarty.
31 May 2006