Giovanni Gasparini

Giovanni Gasparini
Address: Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)
Via Angelo Brunetti 9
00186 Roma
Telephone: +39 06 3224360


A Defence Industry for European Security: Policies and Institutions

The European security framework is suffering from a substantial lack of coherence between a supranational political aspiration, represented by the development of ESDP, and the persistence of national caveat in the area of defence industry policy and regulations. This unbalance is perceived by national and EU officers, as well as industrial players and, according to most experts involved in the European Institutions, poses immediate dangers to the European political aspiration in the international arena and to the competitiveness of the defence industry. The path towards communitarisation of the industrial defence policy is difficult and the result uncertain, as there is no common industrial base and there are as many defence pseudo-markets as member countries; this situation is at least partially defended by member States officials on the ground of protecting national sovereignty. Recent institutional developments in the European arena (EDA, EC) offer some incentives to pool the procurement process at a supranational level, providing at the same time the opportunity to discuss and adopt an increasingly common regulation for the national defence markets, thus overcoming national biases. However, it has clearly emerged that member States still hold firm control of the regulatory framework and, despite the creation of transnational defence companies, favour their respective “national champions”. Even the approach by industrial players reflects some ambiguity, as the willingness to open the market and compete is balanced by the desire to keep a “safe heaven” in the national market of reference. A radical process of reform therefore seems improbable, while a step-by-step approach could reach some goals, provided that reforms proposals guarantee significant incentives to the stakeholders, thus generating the necessary political consensus. While institutional complexity is bound to remain, it would be useful to clarify the respective role of the institutions involved and possibly start a process that could conduct to a specialisation (e.g. European Commission as the regulatory body, EDA as the demand-side catalyst, LoI-FA activities as potential “structured cooperation”). This would in turn impose a formal, much closer coordination amongst players. In policy terms, the research has investigated key elements of the current defence industrial landscape, such as the public or private ownership of defence companies, the openness of the national procurement policies, the desirability of common requirements, the intracommunitarian transfer of defence goods, export policy, security of supply. The single most important issue probably in political terms is connected with the so-called Security of Supply (SoS), as this aspect deals directly with the problem of national sovereignty over the defence activities located within its territory (and therefore subject to national regulation and control). The supply-side push for integration has reached the glass ceiling and cannot proceed further without a top-down strategically coherent guidance from EU institutions. Ultimately, the difficult process of communitarisation of the European defence industrial base requires a strong political consensus of at least the most important member states in the field (France, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden), and should proceed in parallel to the European integration of the defence policy under ESDP.






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Graduated in Economics, his main area of research are: ESDP, NATO, aerospace and defence industry, defence economics and transatlantic relations. He served in the Italian Air Force, working as Military Researcher at CeMiSS, Military Centre for Strategic Studies of the Italian MoD. He is consultant to CeMiSS, where he contributes regularly to the Monthly Observatory on European Defence and Defence Industry issues. He has been Visiting Fellow at the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EU-ISS) in Paris and Visiting Fellow at SIPRI in Stockholm.

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