Looking for Strategic Convergence in the European Defense Industry. By Sophie Lefeez
In her essay on the development of a Common Security and Defence Policy, Sophie Lefeez focuses on the economic arguments rather than the political reasons. High development costs for new armaments mean that even the financially strongest players are compelled to cooperate. The European Commission hopes that a consolidated European defense industry will generate significant cost savings, with a few large companies producing military equipment and weapons in appropriate quantities for all member states.
The author describes this idea as “wishful thinking.” It is an illusion, she argues, to believe that simply assembling the best individual parts from a variety of European suppliers will yield the best end product. This technical analysis approach completely ignores the different soft skills in the various companies and the fact that armaments are not consumer products. They are highly specific products shaped by different security policy “cultures.”
The differences between the member states and their specific needs and values are particularly evident in this field. Lefeez provides examples to show that the hoped-for economies of scale cannot be realized, or only to a much lesser extent, if ultimately each cooperation partner wants to buy a defense product that is exactly tailored to their requirements.
She then divides the member states into groups: the big players with a strong defense industry, including Germany and France; those with medium-sized defense firms and limited political ambitions, such as the Czech Republic, Belgium and Poland; and the neutral countries. This potentially gives rise to conflict. For example, the plan to strengthen the big companies, secure jobs and boost competition among suppliers could lead to further rifts between western and eastern member states.