EU Should Remain Open to U.S. Defense Industry.

Author:Larsen, Christian
Position:Policy Points

* The European Union soon may reach an inflection point in how it views its responsibilities to provide regional and global security. The past decade's chaotic political, economic, social and security environment has fractured the EU on the institutional necessity of a political and economic union.

In response, its most influential member-states have come together in support of an enhanced European integration, focused on defense and security industrial capabilities.

Since 2017, the EU has acted in earnest to establish both the European Defense Fund (EDF) and corresponding Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) projects, two initiatives that aim to bolster autonomy, integration and cooperation within Europe's defense industry through funding mechanisms that could ostensibly disqualify U.S. companies in certain instances.

While the EU's agenda of advancing native defense industrial capabilities has been viewed with skepticism and concern by both U.S. defense officials and industry writ large, emerging geopolitical conditions have emboldened Europe to codify both initiatives into regulations.

As these initiatives move forward, U.S. defense industrial base leaders have and must engage in diplomacy with their European counterparts to advocate opening EDF and PESCO to U.S. participation, so as to underscore rather than undermine a strong transatlantic defense and security relationship.

Opening EDF and PESCO will improve the interoperability of defense systems between NATO allies, and spur world-class innovation by aligning research-and-development funding.

The absence of U.S.-based companies from EDF and PESCO will threaten the future interoperability between transatlantic allies. Interoperability, or the working compatibility between defense systems of allied partners, forms the cornerstone of readiness for multinational military forces. While "interoperability" may seem like a buzzword, war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq showed it has real battlefield importance, comprising the difference between winning or losing in battle and in stability operations.

More recently, a Defense One article highlighted the poor coordination between U.S. and Polish troops during a joint exercise, resulting from American fuel nozzles not fitting Polish fuel tanks.

An exclusive EDF/PESCO would be detrimental to interoperability because it will impede transatlantic collaboration in developing new defense systems, potentially leaving the European defense...

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