Saturday, April 23, 2005

So the integration continues...

Adding to the steady march of European defence integration, the latest step of which we reported in January, DefenseNews has reported that the "The 25-nation European Union" plans to tighten its coordination of cross-border armaments and defence research programs by placing their control under the European Defence Agency.

This agency, which only came fully into being this year is now to absorb the activities of Europe's two main collaborative defence research groups within the next year. This was decided in Brussels yesterday by the EDA's governing steering board, which agreed the agency should take over all armaments and defence research contracts and activities of the Western European Armaments Organisation (WEAO) and the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG).

These two research entities belong to the near-defunct Western European Union defence organisation, nearly all of whose member countries belong to the European Union. Dirk Ellinger, EDA director of research and technology, says that folding them into the EDA will make collaborative research and technology “more cost-effective and tie it more closely to the capabilities needed” to implement the EU security and defence policy.

Absorbing the work of WEAG and WEAO "will give [research and technology] collaboration a much stronger political impulse," added Nick Witney, the agency's chief executive.

And that is the way the system works. First we have a number of intergovernmental organisations, working on a limited and entirely voluntary basis. Then a rival EU organisation is created – in this case the EDA – and it progressively takes over its rivals, absorbing them into the institutional structure of the EU.

Interestingly, though, in this case, the EDA is not yet an EU institution, as its formal adoption into the EU must wait until the EU constitution is ratified (if at all). Until then, it occupies a curious status of an intergovernmental organisation waiting for treaty approval.

That hasn't stopped the march of integration though and now we see the next stage in the steady, incremental execution of the master plan which has only one objective – the creation of the EU security and defence policy.

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