In her introductory remarks at a recent European Defence Agency (EDA) conference, the head of the organisation Catherine Ashton said "the EU relationship with NATO is essential. The breadth of EU instruments can be usefully combined with the depth of NATO's role in defence. The two organisations must continue to reinforce each other's work.”
Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, French Air Force General Stephane Abrial participated in a panel at the conference on “Effective Defence Collaboration – a Business Case for Europe.” There, SACT had the opportunity to present his vision of NATO’s ‘Smart Defence’ initiative and to his perspective of the NATO/EU cooperation. He insisted on the importance of synergy between EU and NATO initiatives:”...this is not only a conviction of mine, but one that is firmly held by political and military leaders of the nations of the Alliance”.
Presided by the Claude France Arnould, Chief Executive of the EDA, the EDA Annual Conference provided a good forum for a high level debate amongst senior experts from governments, EU institutions, industry and ‘Think Tanks’ on the means to boost European defence cooperation in an era of severe financial constraints.
Other participants on the discussion panel with General Abrial were Olof Skoog who is the Permanent Chairman of the Political and Security Committee in the European External Action Service and Klaus Eberhardt, who is the President of Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe and Chief Executive Officer of Rheinmetall AG. The panel was moderated by Gabor Marki, the Hungarian Deputy State Secretary for Defence Economy and National Armaments Director.
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