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Towards a more competitive and efficient EU defence and security sector

Towards a more competitive and efficient EU defence and security sector

The European Commission has come up with proposals to boost the competitiveness of the defence and security sector in the European Union (EU).


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector (COM(2013) 542 final of 24.7.2013 - not published in the Official Journal).


The European Commission has proposed a new strategy to boost the competitiveness’s defence capabilities of the European defence industry, to explore how other areas’s defence capabilities such as energy, space and dual use technologies (with civilian and military uses) can contribute to Europe’s defence capabilities and to lower the barriers between national defence markets.

In general terms, the European Commission’s industrial policy aims to encourage competition and innovation in the EU and to support SMEs. The underlying idea is to provide the EU’s common security and defence policy (CSDP) with a strong industrial base, challenged by the unprecedented reduction of defence budgets in Europe. Through the CSDP, the EU seeks to prevent external conflicts and to manage crises that might pose a threat to its security.

The defence industry is mostly concentrated in six EU Member States (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom (1)), although companies producing ancillary equipment and systems can be found all over Europe. More than 1 350 SMEs play an important role in the European defence sector.


The ideas put forward to boost the competitiveness of the European defence industry include EU standards and certification, better access to raw materials and specific support (e.g. in terms of access to EU finance) for defence SMEs.

Civil-military cooperation

Here, the idea is to exploit the dual use potential of EU-funded research, for example in areas such as key technologies that can be used both by the defence and the civil world. Another Commission proposal is for the EU to jointly explore alternative sources of renewable energy to help EU countries reduce the energy consumption of their armed forces.


EU governments, defence companies and taxpayers all stand to benefit from the proposals if they are put into effect.

  • Taxpayers are expected to benefit from more efficient defence spending and less duplication between civil and military research and development efforts.
  • Defence companies are expected to benefit from economies of scale through standardisation and common certification, greater access to EU funding and better access to markets in the EU and around the world.

EU countries as a whole are expected to benefit by saving time and money via EU standards and certification, role specialisation, joint research and procurement,as well as having more energy-efficient armies and more efficient use of space infrastructure.

last update 15.05.2014

(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.