Restoration of a balanced policy with Europe

Vadim Koroshupov,
Junior Researcher,
Center of International Security,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations,
Moscow, Russia

Today defence industry sector is characterized by a globalised defence industrial production chain. Weapon systems become more complex. Equipment is purchased in small batches. Technology is now coming not only from the defence sector to the civilian sector, but also from the civilian sector to the defence one. Network of subcontractors become more transnational. It is possible to note a tendency of formation of the security-industrial complex.

EU defence budgets are shrinking. Production capacities are consolidated, and transnational corporations are created in Europe. Civilian production is often the heart of defence industrial base. There is a complex system of relations between civil and military industries.

European defence companies in land and sea sector are nationalized and in aerospace and electronics they are globalized. In land and sea sector consolidation is limited. The aerospace and the electronics sector show consolidation. Some major European defence contractors are already internationalised and less dependent on national orders.

The Russian defence-industrial complex is part of the global defence-industrial sector and, accordingly, is subject to similar trends. Russia is also consolidating production capacities and creating state corporations. Civilian companies form a vital part of the supply chain for defence.

The European Parliament in 2019 adopted the partial agreement on the EU Defence Fund for 2021-2027. The aim is to promote collaborative defence research and technology investment through coordinated projects between the EU Member States. In this regard, it may be useful to refer to the experience of other countries, for example, such as the United States and the USSR. In 1971, the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) was formed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Defense to improve the mechanism of technology exchange among defense laboratories. The FLC collected a huge amount of valuable information and new technologies. The Federal Laboratory Consortium also used defense technology to meet civilian needs.

The State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on science and technology determined the directions of development of science and technology, planed and organized the development of scientific research, organized the introduction into production of discoveries, inventions and research results. The European Defence Agency could take over the function of collecting all data on existing competencies, ongoing researches, results of intellectual activities and technologies. The creation of such a database, the so-called technology broker, can also exchange technical solutions, both between defence enterprises and between the defence and civilian sectors of industry.

In recent interview with The Economist, French President Emmanuel Macron outlined his views on Russia’s development. In his opinion, there are three scenarios. The third option, Russia restores of a balanced policy with Europe. The EU and Russia are geographical neighbors. The EU and Russia are doomed to collaborate. The emerging system of European security and defence cannot be provided by the EU relying only on its own strength.

Taking into account Europe’s policy of “strategic autonomy” in the field of defence and security, the European Union needs to fill its technology gap, so there is a potential for mutually profitable cooperation between the EU and Russia. The EU and Russia can organize joint R&T projects or participate in joint defence R&T. Common projects can deter politicians from making abrupt and rash decisions.

In 2010 China imposed restrictions on exports of rare earth materials. The portion of military-specific carbon fibre compared to the overall market is so small, that it is economically unattractive for the producers to deliver to militaries. Semiconductors and advanced radio frequency products play a key role in defence electronics. Europe’s monthly production capacity of commercial wafers and integrated circuits was surpassed by China in 2007, making Europe the lowest-producing region in the world. The massive growth of production in China, South Korea, and Taiwan has made East Asia the new manufacturing powerhouse of the commercial market for radio frequency devices and microcomputers. Such a regional concentration of production capability among very few suppliers can itself pose a serious security of supply risk. Natural disasters in 2011 (Japan and Thailand) have almost halted the global production of semi-conductors and hard drives. Gallium nitride (GaN) is the important part of next-generation semiconductors. The challenges of semiconductor supply in Europe also extend further. Most likely, these are the areas where there is also potential for cooperation between the EU and Russia.

Defence cooperation between countries means the highest degree of trust and is able, including in Europe, to ensure our mutual security no worse than other international treaties.

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