Panel III deals with major aspects of a common defence economics policy and with armaments cooperation procedures.
Normally meets three times a year in plenary session to review ongoing work and decide on the course of future activities.
The Panel reports to the National Armaments Directors (NADs); it prepares proposals and recommendations for their consideration.
The basis for WEAG-wide armaments activities is the set of principles laid down in the Coherent Policy Document (CPD). That document was approved in 1990 by Defence Ministers and has been updated in 1999 to take into account the changes which have occurred in the European armaments sector since then.
Specific issues addressed by Panel III include cross-border competition and technology transfer, which are the basic principles of the EDEM (European Defence Equipment Market). A major objective is to strengthen the European DTIB (Defence Technological and Industrial Base). The CPD also explicitly states that, during a transition period, application of the juste retour (fair return) principle and support for countries with developing defence industries (DDIs) are two important aspects. Finally, Panel III assists the other WEAG Groups and Panels in defining common procedures.
To implement the above mentioned principles, focal points for procurement affairs have been established in all WEAG countries. Each national focal point publishes its nation's defence procurement needs in national Bulletins, which are available WEAG-wide to provide industry and the procurement authorities of the WEAG states with information on future national requirements for defence products, thus creating opportunities for cross-border competition and industrial cooperation.
In order to monitor development of the EDEM, Panel III has since 1990 implemented a data-gathering system covering cross-border contracts, the number of contracts published in the WEAG national bulletins and contracts placed with or without the application of WEAG rules.
WEAG nations also analyse the juste retour mechanisms and examines other possible alternative means of preventing unacceptable imbalances in defence research and development or procurement activities between WEAG nations.
Panel III is studying ways in which Europe's defence technological and industrial base can be strengthened, against a background of industrial restructuring and the creation of a European armaments community, so that it remains capable of meeting European defence requirements.
Panel III is authorised by WEAG NADs to conduct a dialogue with the European Union, enabling the European Commission and EDIG to be more involved with WEAG work. It meets as necessary under the guidance of the Panel III Chairman to address sensitive issues and proposes joint positions that reflect the specificity of the armaments sector.
Since all Panel III documents, despite being approved by NADs and, in some cases, by Defence Ministers, are non-binding in legal terms, their application depends on the political willingness of WEAG Member States. Panel III supports all activities aimed at improving the functioning of the EDEM and reinforcing the DTIB in Europe within the context of creating the European armaments community.
Panel III is encouraged by WEAG NADs to identify priorities, taking into account the developments in the European Defence and Security Policy, the Helsinki Headline Goal (European Capability Action Plan - process) and the NATO Defence Capabilities Initiative (or its follow-on).
The developments in other European armaments organizations and initiatives are observed as well to avoid duplication of effort.