Just Transition In Defence

Final Conference

12 and 13 July 2022 in Brussels

Final Conference

The Conference started with a presentation by Nathalie Errard, Airbus, Head of the Brussels office, on the geopolitical impact of the war in Ukraine on the European defence industry.

Ms Errard made it very clear that, from the European defence industry’s point of view, a new security situation has arisen which will lead to an increase in defence spending.

The industry is ready to work even more than before in joint procurement projects. Airbus is an example of the success that such cooperation can have on the world market, both for civil and military projects.

Peter Wilke, wmp consult, presented the main results from the workshops held as part of the industriAll Europe project, which he summarised in ten theses. He, too, expects a significant increase in defence spending and, as a result, more projects and employment in the defence industry.

At the same time, however, the conflicts between more cooperation and Europeanisation on the one hand and the national interests of the European states on the other, remain characteristic for the individual armament projects. The structural problems of the European defence industry have not yet been eliminated. They are only being postponed into the future by higher demand.

In the coming years, however, there is an additional threat of bottlenecks in qualified labour for the industry.

The afternoon session started with Anders Carp, Deputy CEO, Saab AB, who underlined the importance of further integration of the EU defence industries. EU defence industries are on their way to address the market demands and Mr. Carp saw a strong need for cooperation between the industry and trade unions in the next years. He argued in favour of increased investment in the defence sector and mentioned as an example the development of the next fighter aircraft. Here even two parallel projects might by possible from his point of view.

The afternoon session was concluded by a roundtable discussion, which brought a very strong consensus in the assessment of the new security situation.

The second conference day started with two contributions from Prof. Brzoska, SIPRI und Prof. Hartley, University of Kent on the development of defence expenditures and the economics of military procurement. Both described the recent trend of growing military expenditures and new challenges for a European security policy. But they also stressed that the cost of weapons systems continues to rise significantly. Cooperation projects in particular have their own dynamics here.

The final round table of the conference discussed the challenges of participation and codetermination by trade unions and workers’ representatives in the defence sector. The participants from Thales, Rheinmetall and Airbus described their systems of information and consultation by using European Works Councils. They underlined the importance of social dialogue for the companies and the industry.