-  Saturday 15 August 2020

EU hopes to open up market for defence products

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s (EU’s) €70bn market for defence equipment should be prised open to crossborder competition to boost the bloc’s economy, the European Commission said yesterday.

The EU executive launched a consultation on what action it may propose by year-end to scrap barriers to selling defence products between member states, and forge an EU policy on exports of defence products to the developing world. “We try to tackle areas where the single market is not fully functioning yet,” said commission spokesman Gregor Kreuzhuber.

The sector includes aeronautics, hardware, electronics, shipbuilding, engines and trucks, and employs 770000 people.

Brussels said opening the market would spur competition and make it cheaper for the 25 EU states to buy equipment.

“We are trying to find out from our stakeholders what is the best way forward to open up the market for defence products,” Kreuzhuber said.

Despite the sensitivity of defence for EU countries, rulings by the European Court of Justice and the bloc’s treaties confirmed the principle of free movement of goods and services in the sector, Kreuzhuber said.

Member states could impose restrictions on sales, he said.

Options for action include extending the co-operation between six member states to all bloc members, reinforcing the EU’s defence agency, or proposing an EU instrument to lift obstacles to trade in defence products within the bloc by co- ordinating export rules on armaments. Reuters


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