idD Portugal Defence launches debate in Europe: greater space for SMEs in the defence ecosystem
idD Portugal Defence boosted this priority on the presidency’s agenda, being particularly relevant for Portugal due to the focus placed on the need to give greater prominence to SMEs in the defence ecosystem, creating opportunities for national industry and academia, generating qualified employment and wealth by increasing the weight of solutions and technologies with high added value and military and civil dual use, while allowing Europe to reinforce its logistical and operational independence.
The debate was attended by representatives from several countries from academia, industry, NATO, European institutions, the Armed Forces and the Government.
Thierry Breton highlights EDF role in ensuring European strategic autonomy
During the opening session, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, highlighted the role of the Defence Industry in the ambition of European strategic autonomy, highlighting the imperative for Europe to lead and control the development of the state of the art in terms of defence, capabilities and technology, reducing its external dependence. In this regard, he alluded to the European Defence Fund (EDF) as part of the solution, as it is expected, for the first time in the EU, to finance a complete cycle of development of state-of-the-art defence capabilities, in the amount of 8 billion euros, which is estimated to boost an investment of around 40 to 50 billion euros for all types of companies within Europe, whether start-ups, SMEs or large companies, creating a truly European supply chain.
Defence depends on a structured and competitive European industry, stresses João Cravinho
The Minister of National Defence, João Gomes Cravinho, highlighted that the European security and defence policy and strategic autonomy depend on a structured and competitive European defence industry, capable of responding to a volatile security environment. For the government official, the current moment presents itself as a unique opportunity for reindustrialisation efforts and for a new paradigm, with resilience being a priority that requires the management of critical supply chains for defence: “it is a strategic opportunity for the Portuguese SMEs t0 integrate into the European defence economy value chains and develop new areas of activity.”
Marco Capitão Ferreira presents strong DTIB advantages for defence and economy
Marco Capitão Ferreira, Chairman of idD Portugal Defence, highlighted the importance of a strong DTIB both for European security, as this base allows Member States to maintain crucial industrial skills and capabilities for defence and security of supply, as well as for the economy, as this sector has the potential to promote the development of state-of-the-art technology, to stimulate innovation and dual-use applications, creating value and highly qualified employment. The importance of ensuring a “level playing field” for SMEs was also highlighted, generating equal opportunities for companies and countries. The Portuguese Defence Economy ecosystem comprises a diversified range of companies, technology centres and training entities, covering around 40 sectors of activity that promote synergies of military and civil dual-use.
More innovation and concerted action to overcome crises
The first panel of the seminar contributed to a better understanding of gaps and potential ways to overcome crises, namely: changes in procurement processes and in terms of R&D; need to act in unison to achieve technological advantage and strategic autonomy; the need for the EU and NATO to act coherently and quickly; and the importance of involving SMEs and enabling them for innovation.
The second panel allowed the discussion of gaps and opportunities within the European defence industries, issues that will continue to be worked on by the Slovenian Presidency, highlighting the need to work together, to have equal and fair access to opportunities and the need for improvement in R&D investments.
The importance of SMEs and clusters for better capabilities and economic impact
The afternoon sessions recognized the importance of SMEs and the role of clusters in improving both capacities and economic development. They also contributed to understanding the need for a joint effort by the civil and military sectors to achieve technological advantage, guaranteeing the security of the Member States.
Throughout the day, the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) and the role of SMEs were promoted, as well as a common approach, through an inclusive, balanced and fair methodology for accessing opportunities. The event sought to improve understanding of the Defence Economy and its impact on the ecosystem.
Jiří Šedivý commits to idD Portugal Defence’s position on Defence Economy
The closing session was attended by the Executive Director of the European Defence Agency (EDA), Jiří Šedivý, who pointed to the current moment in the defence sphere, which is guided by European initiatives to foster capacity development and by a renewed commitment of the Member States in cooperation in matters of security and defence. It highlighted some relevant developments such as the completion of the first Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Strategic Review of PESCO and the launch of the first EDF Annual Work Program which, taken together, are part of a coherent structure with a view to the realisation of European defence cooperation and the joint development of capabilities.
It ended with the promotion of the idD Portugal Defence non-paper on the Future of the European Defence Economy and the role of the Defence Industry, committing itself, in accordance with the recommendations, to assume, through the EDA, a more predominant role in strengthening EDTIB, in promoting a close dialogue with industry to support capacity building and innovative solutions.
Siza Vieira emphasizes the need to strengthen value chains in Europe
Closing the day, the Minister of State, Economy and Digital Transition, Pedro Siza Vieira, reflecting on the European debate regarding strategic autonomy, stressed that it is important for Europe to be able to acquire and sustain infrastructure, resources and components critics. At the same time, he praised the European awakening in pursuit of this ambition of strategic autonomy that led to a rethinking of the industry ecosystem, mapping capabilities and identifying development opportunities and, in this way, for the EU to adapt to an ever-changing international landscape. It ended by highlighting the importance of strengthening EDTIB together, with greater investment in R&D, leveraging dual-use technologies and the capacity of the Industry, which, assuming the cooperation and coordination of all Member States, can ensure that the supply chains value operate resiliently across the continent.
The event had an audience of around 50 people at the CCB and more than 100 people online during the day.