PART 4: CAPABILITIES (continued)
62. Although EU Member States need not aspire to
the level of defence spending that the US maintains, defence expenditure
is at a historically low level and the differential between European
members and the US is widening. The Sub-Committee received much
evidence that most EU Member States hoped to be able to provide
the resources for the headline goals from efficiency gains or
the reallocation of existing resources. Mr Jones Parry summed
up the three options available to Member States if they wished
to achieve the capabilities necessary for the headline goals:
"One is to spend more; the second is to spend money more
efficiently; and the third is to change the pattern of expenditure
to meet the kinds of challenges that are now more likely to be
63. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that the capabilities
will be achieved through efficiencies and the refocusing of expenditure.
Few EU countries have undertaken strategic defence reviews in
the way that the United Kingdom has, and many have not adapted
towards producing the rapidly deployable and sustainable forces
necessary for the conduct of Petersberg missions. But even if
strategic defence reviews were to go some way towards improving
the situation, it is unlikely that the headline goals can be achieved
without an increase in expenditure by all EU countries.
64. Others have suggested that some savings can be
made through the creation of a pan-European procurement system
or through the consolidation of the European armaments industries.
In terms of procurement, evidence drew attention to the fact
that the United States has a major advantage in that it can buy
more cheaply because it buys in bulk: United States requirement
for 3,000 joint strike fighters is twenty times as large as that
of the United Kingdom
and their bargaining power with manufacturers is accordingly greater,
since larger production runs enable manufacturers to save costs.
If Europe had a procurement agency, Professor Keith Hartley of
the Centre for Defence Economics at the University of York suggests
that savings in the region of 10 to 15 per cent could be made
(Q116). An embryonic attempt to put in place a single customer
organisation is being made through an organisation (Organisation
Conjointe de Co-opération en Matière
d'Armement) known by the French acronym OCCAR, following on from
previous unsuccessful attempts based on the juste retour system.
However, much as some would like common procurement, there are
dangers: Mr Marwan Lahoud, Director of Strategy at Aerospatiale
Matra said that "a unique procurement body for Europe would
be a great achievement
At the same time, all the experiences
during the last 25 years led more to unproductive bureaucracy
than to efficient procurement bodies." (Q111) The Secretary
of State conceded that "we are still quite some way away
from the day when we will decide to procure equipment collectively
irrespective of the nationality of the producer." (Q372)
65. In theory, a consolidation of European defence
manufacturers could bring savings to European defence ministries.
This year saw the creation of EADS, the European Aeronautic,
Defence and Space Company, which combines France's Aerospatiale
Matra, and Germany's DASA. It is believed that companies like
this will be able to compete against US companies, especially
Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop-Grumann. In doing so, EADS might
be able to offer European purchasers state-of-the-art equipment
at competitive prices: such equipment has always been available
from US manufacturers, but it is not always available from European
suppliers. However, there are serious doubts as to whether a
European consolidation of defence industries will really make
a difference to costs. In any case, several European defence
companies will prefer to align with American companies.
66. Evidence suggests there is a need for new injections
of expenditure over a sustained period to ensure a European force
of the size and capability envisaged. For example, the gap between
the US and the EU in one area, heavy air lift, is very great.
Evidence suggests for EU Member States to achieve even half of
the US's capability would require the expenditure of $50 billion.
The sums involved in creating the autonomous capability inspired
by Helsinki are thus quite staggering. But according to Dr Anand
Menon of the Centre for European Politics, Economics and Society
at the University of Oxford, "No west European state
has the resources to invest in the kinds of hardware that a truly
autonomous defence would require." (p133) There will therefore
need to be a serious concentration on those capability gaps which
can be closed.
67. An additional problem is the poor research and
development practices in Europe. Evidence from Mr Lahoud made
clear that "we are spending, in Europe, less money on this
activity and we are spending it in a less efficient way."
(p32) The US spends $35 billion per year on defence research and
development (R&D) whilst the remainder of NATO spends only
$9 billion. While the European members of NATO together spend
about 60 per cent of the US figure on overall defence, duplication
and inefficient national practices means they come no where near
generating 60 per cent of the U.S. capability.
Unless this is addressed, the widening technology gap will soon
lead to European troops being unable to operate alongside American
troops because of their "technological backwardness".
68. Many of the gaps in capabilities have been already
identified by NATO's Defence Capabilities Initiative and by the
WEU's Audit of Assets and Capabilities.
For some EU Member States it is clear that an EU initiative in
this area will be more likely to encourage greater defence expenditure
since some political leaders and their electorates are more open
to the idea of a branded European defence capability. For the
moment, few countries seem willing to commit themselves to the
increased expenditure necessary to develop the capabilities required.
The United Kingdom has, however, committed itself to large expenditure
on the METEOR weapon system and to developing a heavy air lift
and it has significantly realigned the focus of its military capabilities
as a result of its Strategic Defence Review. However, the United
Kingdom's situation is the exception rather than the rule.
69. Even so, it is far from clear even that the United
Kingdom and France are spending enough to satisfy the needs of
the headline goals. Neither country is prepared to raise expenditure
Evidence from British ministers and officials makes clear their
view that there is no need for more expenditure, though the Secretary
of State for Defence, in evidence to the House of Commons Defence
Committee on 22nd June, appeared to accept the need for the United
Kingdom to spend more on defence. France is committed to increasing
capabilities but reducing expenditure over the next five years.
70. The need for Germany to spend more on defence
will be central to the success of the European defence initiative.
This need seems to be recognised in Germany, although there remain
significant pressures on the overall budget. According to General
Naumann, "The big problem for my country is that the Government
have announced a defence budget which I believe is absolutely
insufficient to meet the requirements of Helsinki" (Q271).
Germany spends only 1.5 per cent of its GDP on defence and needs
to further refocus its defence priorities: it is widely recognised
to have too many main battle tanks and too many conscripts. It
also spends too little of its defence budget (13.6 per cent, compared
with 27.5 per cent in the United Kingdom) on equipment, and much
of its equipment is outdated.
A recent report from former President Richard von Weizsäcker
recommends a refocusing of Germany's priorities, through a reduction
in the number of conscripts from 130,000 to 30,000 and an increase
in the number of crisis reaction force troops from 60,000 to 140,000.
Even so, doubts remain concerning the effectiveness and sustainability
of such a force without a significant re-equipping of German forces
involving extra spending. The cost of this will be high: according
to Mr Klaus Becher of the International Institute for Strategic
Studies, "The cumulative defence investment backlog has been
estimated between 15 and 30 billion DM (£5-9bn). Annual
defence expenditures would have to be increased by at least 10
per cent to gradually catch up" (p80).
71. In one particular way, Germany represents a problem
that many European countries face. Conscription is an issue that
needs to be addressed across Europe. There are more than 1.9
million troops in Europe as a whole, compared to 1.4 million in
the US, but evidence suggests they are vastly less effective.
More than half of the troops in Europe are conscripts, while
the US armed forces are entirely volunteer-based. There are some
arguments in favour of conscription. In Germany, conscription
underlines the concept of a "citizen army". At the
same time it brings certain skills into the armed forces that
might otherwise be lacking.
Moreover, for a country like Turkey, conscription is necessary
to maintain security in the south-east of the country.
However, in many other countries too many resources are devoted
to large, semi-professional armies where conscripts serve for
too short a period, when the real need is for smaller, better-equipped
armed forces that can be rapidly deployed. Some European countriesFrance,
Italy, Spain and Portugalhave drawn this conclusion and
have decided to abolish conscription, and even Turkey, where volunteers
form 10 per cent of the armed forces, has considered similar action.
72. Conscription illustrates one critical issue for
EU governments. It highlights the need for the EU to have the
right quality of troops as much as the right quantity. In addition,
it is also far from clear that 60,000 will be enough, or that
the deployment period of 60 days will be fast enough, or that
sustaining the forces for one year will be long enough. For example,
troops have been deployed in Bosnia since 1992. Even though the
headline goals may prove too modest for the full range of Petersberg
tasks, it is far from certain that they will be attained by 2003.
In addition, for all the talk of a "rapid reaction force",
situations usually develop at a pace which requires troops to
be deployed significantly sooner: the Falklands conflict, by comparison,
was almost completed 60 days after the Argentine invasion, despite
the huge distance which the task force had to cover. Of course,
it is likely that spearhead troops will be available for deployment
much sooner; but, as noted by Professor Michael Clarke of the
Centre for Defence Studies, "The problem is not having spearhead
forces necessarily, they are relatively easy to develop, but developing
something behind the spearhead that gets there before the end
of the 60 day requirement." (Q78)
73. A further issue concerns how the headline goal
of 50-60,000 will be met by governments. It is not clear whether
these troops will be "stand-alone" forces with no other
commitments or "double-hatted" forces with other tasks
possible. In April 1999, the United Kingdom Government signed
a Memorandum of Understanding, earmarking 10,000 troops for potential
United Nations duties. It will be important to establish whether
the Government accepts that its own contribution will be readily
available and not committed to other tasks, or whether some elements
can be committed elsewhere. The EU's capabilities commitment
conference in November this year may clarify this issue, and it
is an issue to which we may return at some stage in the future.
74. While the headline goal is to be attained by
the Member States of the EU, the contributions of other nations
in missions will make an important contribution to a European
defence capability. Many of the non-EU members of NATO can make
a considerable contribution in terms of manpower, capabilities
and experience in Petersberg missions: Norway, for example, is
proposing a pool of 3,600 troops to be available for international
peace operations (p59). It is highly desirable that non-EU countries
are included in missions that involve the EU rapid reaction force,
but this will require delicate handling, in particular where the
non-EU states are members of NATO. It is unlikely that many missions
will be undertaken by coalitions which consist purely of the members
of the EU, and for this reason it will be vital to establish the
most important capability of all, an effective and inclusive command
and control mechanism.
30 See Hopkinson (p182). Back
See Hartley (Q116). Back
Figures quoted in William Drozdiak, Washington Post 7 March 2000. Back
Elinor Sloan, DCI: Responding to the US-led Revolution in Military
Affairs, NATO Review, Spring/Summer 2000, pp.4-6. Back
The WEU Audit of Assets and Capabilities for European Crisis Management
Operations was approved at the WEU Council of Ministers, Luxembourg
23-24 November 1999 and NATO Defence Capabilities Initiative at
the NATO summit in Washington in April 1999. A good summary of
the specific capability gaps is provided by Foster (pp171-172). Back
See Secretary of State (QQ365-6). Back
It is not yet clear whether the Comprehensive Spending Review
of July 2000 will make a difference. Back
See Becher (p80) and Naumann (Q273). Back
See, for example, Becher (p80) and Rummel et al (p208). Back
See Park (Q408). Back