Moving in Circles is Not Always a Bad Thing
In an effort to improve the ‘green’ nature of the defence industry, the European Defence Agency (EDA) is implementing its Incubation Forum for Circular Economy in European Defence (IF CEED).
The Forum gathers EU national defence ministries, industry, research and financial institutions to launch common defence projects inspired by the principles of circular economy. Specifically, projects aim to improve the design of defence capabilities so as to make their components and materials (especially rare materials) – re-usable. Several working groups will support this work, including those dedicated to Critical Raw Materials, EU waste regulations, Circular Data, and others.
Recent assessments showed that “value chains in the defence sector contribute significantly to the heavy carbon footprint of defence,” commented François Bausch, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Luxembourg, which is the co-funding country on the project. In a world of increased competition for raw materials, “we urgently need to improve our systems of reusing and recycling such materials,” he added.
EDA will manage the Forum for two years, with total funding of €784,000 from the EC (EU LIFE Programme) and Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defence. In total, 22 countries are involved, including Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium.
On the one hand, the defence sector is trying to mitigate its environmental footprint. On the other, there are multiple concerns about the sustainability criteria for the Green Deal, which might adversely affect financial support.
Innovation Hub US-EU Administrative Arrangements
EDA also seeks to improve innovation in the defence sector. The agency is currently working to establish a Defence innovation hub, consulting with member states and various stakeholders. A coordination cell – a “permanent, flexible cell, the nucleus of the future hub” – will form the starting point of the project this year, commented EDA’s Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý on 20 January.
It is not entirely clear what relationship the hub will have with NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic DIANA, to be launched in June. Most likely, the two hubs will have similar tasks, and mutual transparency will be needed more than ever to avoid duplication.
In the meantime, after months of talks with member states, EDA is about to start consultation with the United States aimed at establishing a sound basis for an Administrative Arrangement – possibly within a year. The agreement, strongly supported by US government(s), is a pre-requisite to participation in EDA programmes and projects.
In fact, the arrangement with Washington is more complicated than those established with other countries or entities (Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, Serbia, OCCAR and ESA, for example). And this, Šedivý explained, is not only because of the size of the country, but also because very sensitive issues are involved, “such as extraterritorial restrictions” about handling defence material, technology and information.
Caterina Tani in Brussels for MON