Construction, Conversion and Control of Defence Technological Capabilities (C3C) in Europe
(Theme 3: The Evaluation of Collaboration and Networking in European S&T;)

CREDIT network (Capacity for Research on European Defence Industrial Technology) of experts from nine Western European Countries
Director:Professor Philip Gummett
with Dr Josephine Stein
Coordinator: Peter Healey


The aim of the study is to draw lessons for policy and practice from the differing responses of a range of Western European countries to the pressures that are currently acting on defence technology. The emphasis is on changes in technological capabilities - a combination of technological artefacts and ability to use them. The policy issues on which the study focuses are:

  • defence and dual-use technology
  • defence conversion
  • controlling the diffusion of defence technologies

Main Results

The work of the study is still being brought together so results are preliminary. The work will produce a variety of outputs. Main results for the policy on defence science and technology include:

Research models:
France, through the DGA, is targeting basic and dual-use research strategically. Countries generally are protecting defence research relative to sharp drops in defence spending (France especially). Increased interest is being shown in dual- use technologies, both as a means of affording defence equipment and as a way of seeking economic benefits from defence spending. Cost-effective R& D requires access to facilities operated on a cost-share basis. This pressure is already opening up new possible sources of collaboration - over wind tunnel facilities with the former Soviet Union, as well as within Western Europe.

Company linkages and strategy:
Processes involved in strategic marketing and the development of dual use capacities are very complex, and the companies involved in them very powerful. It is difficult to even map these. Processes of national concentration are being followed by international mergers and joint ventures. It is unclear how this process will be regulated - eg European Commission regulation or 'European Preference'. The new emphasis in France and Belgium is on mil-tailored rather than mil-spec products.

Ministries of Defence as intelligent customers:
there is widespread development of international collaboration and external sourcing. Methods for retaining 'intelligent customer' capability vary considerably. Belgium has developed capacities for technology watching in something close to a 'Japanese model'. The Netherlands has a watching brief/technology audit capacity in government laboratories. Companies appear to be leading policy or independent of government policy.

Development/maintenance of indigenous technology:
There are divergent practices on the definition and maintenance of key/critical technologies: in some cases left mainly to the free market, in others related to national needs. Both approaches are witnessing, in effect, national specialisation. The development of competition from domestic, through European, to global levels, appears to be driving these processes.

Export market controls:
there is strong interest in promoting a common export regime for Europe. This is driven by the fear that the USA could capture the global market. This question is linked to the nature of the European arms market.

Managing shrinkage and change:
Change in the chief locus in secrecy from national to commercial reduces the area of influence of government policy. Key decisions are often now made by banks, two steps away from governments. The Netherlands has introduced a process of strengths and weakness analysis, with secret results. The Spanish emphasis is on managing downwards trends. Sweden has an approach of risk and cost-sharing, with the co-financing of R& D, and a facility, KODEMA, for sharing the costs of co- production.

Defence Conversion:/Diversification:
there are few successful examples, with the exception of some small successes in the Netherlands. The European KONVER programme has not been a success in Spain - views vary on its success elsewhere. Historical momentum, for example France and Britain's traditional institutional and cultural militarism, may have important influences on capacity for change. The Italian practice of constructing a taxonomy of technologies for diversification may be an instructive example.

Implications for policy and practice

Detailed lessons for this study will be drawn for goals, strategies and mechanisms/obstacles. Some preliminary conclusions are:

  • The rate of industrial change is great. The initiative is being taken by companies in conjunction with financial institutions. They are restructuring rapidly, making their own choices in their own interests. Foreign ownership can influence the nature of these changes. The realism of company forecasts of the future shape of the European defence market needs to be tested.

  • This process of industrial restructuring is reducing the area of policy discretion of national governments, which are responding to change much more slowly. Unless they understand these processes and keep abreast of them governments may find themselves restricted in ways they had not anticipated. Nor is there any capacity at the EC/EU level to take an overview of these changes.

  • The experience of defence conversion is not encouraging. More needs to be learned about the processes involved, the relationship with defence diversification, and the destination of technical resources released from defence.

  • The character of change within national science and technology systems is heavily influenced by historical inertia in institutions and styles of operation. More needs to be understood about how these processes reduce the perceived and actual choices at each stage of decision making. The scope for the practical development of dual-use technologies remains unclear.

  • Change is still taking place in a context of risk. The future of the former Soviet Union is now not only of interest to governments but to companies, each of which is struggling for influence in a global marketplace. Exports generally remain volatile.

References/Further Reading

Philip Gummett and Josephine Anne Stein (1994) European Defence Technology in Transition: Issues for the UK - a CREDIT Network Study London: SPSG Review Paper no 7.

'Defence Related Research and Technology in Transition: issues for Europe'. Short briefings on the country studies compiled for a European seminar. London: SPSG, January 1995.

Managing European Defence Technology - book of the study (sponsors European Commission).

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