The National Armaments Directors (NADs) of the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG) met in Dublin (Ireland) on 26 February 2004 under the Netherlands Chairmanship of WEAG.
NADs took note of the opening remarks by their Chairman, and joined him in welcoming the WEU Secretary-General’s Special Representatives, including Mr Nick Witney, and Mr Roger Hawksworth, Secretary-General designate of ASD, the future AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe.
NADs’ discussions mainly focused on the ‘roadmap’ of WEAG/WEAO for 2004, and the activities of the WEAG Panels.
Concerning the ‘roadmap’ of WEAG/WEAO for 2004, NADs welcomed the “Food for Thought” paper, presented by their Chairman, concerning the necessary transformation of WEAG/WEAO in order to:
- facilitate a positive and productive relationship between the existing WEAG/WEAO armaments community and the European Agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments, hereafter called the Agency, and
- prepare a smooth transition period before the possible integration, at a time yet to be determined, of relevant WEAG/WEAO activities into the Agency;
NADs supported the proposals made in this paper and more particularly agreed:
- that the WEAG/WEAO assets mentioned in the document transmitted by the Chair to the EU presidency on 13 November 2003 should be maintained as appropriate, and further developed if need be, pending an EU decision on their possible future use in the Agency,
- that the Panel I and III assets should be prepared for their possible transmittal to the Agency, once it has reached its operational stage, and indicated a readiness to accept such assets,
- that, in order to facilitate the setting up of an efficient working relationship with the Agency and subsequent possible future use by, or incorporation into the Agency, the Panel II assets might, by the end of 2004, be concentrated within the framework of the WEAO, whilst recognising that there were varying views concerning the appropriate home for R&T policy,
- that the necessary documents should be prepared prior to the next NADs meeting, in order to be signed and/or approved by Ministers by the end of the year if the decision to concentrate Panel II’s assets in the WEAO is taken at that time;
Within the framework of the above agreed proposals, NADs invited the Chair and relevant experts within WEAG/WEAO, as suitable, to coordinate the actions necessary to maintain current WEAG/WEAO assets until their assimilation or incorporation, as appropriate, in the Agency; to review and prepare the necessary changes to all legal and administrative documents needed for the efficient continuation of the work of WEAG Panel II and of the WEAO, including the Research Cell, in the new setting as abovementioned; to investigate, in consultation with the Agency Establishment Team (including legal advisers as appropriate), as necessary, the modalities of assimilation in due course of the WEAO Research Cell (including the contracting process and any running contracts) in the Agency; and to analyse the administrative, personnel and financial consequences of any decision to close WEAG and to make timely proposals for dealing with them;
They invited the WEAG Chair to propose, at the Autumn 2004 NADs Meeting, a coherent and comprehensive set of decisions, together with MOU amendments as necessary, for subsequent approval by Ministers.
With regard to Panel I (Harmonisation of Requirements and Programmes) work, NADs noted the continuing process of harmonisation of the taxonomy with that of the LOI; the introduction of this taxonomy into the ERS (Equipment Review Schedule) Database reflecting capability; and the provisions made to maintain the ERS database as up to date as possible. For the time being, Panel I has identified five sub-groups which could be offered to the Agency: the Top down Sub-Group on Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence (NBCD TSG) and the Sub-Groups on the Future Combat Aircraft (FCA SG), the Direct Firing Platform (DFP SG), Counter-Mine Equipment (CME SG) and Naval Mine Warfare (NMW SG). Other sub-groups need further consideration. Finally, Panel I would produce a study, “Lessons Learned by Panel I”, as suggested by the WEAG NADs Chairman.
Concerning Panel II (Research and Technology), NADs noted Panel II’s interim proposals for improving the Technology Taxonomy, and the encouraging developments in the EUROPA Transparency Database. They approved the streamlining and restructuring measures proposed by Panel II to improve its functions in advance of further discussions about its role vis-à-vis the Agency; and noted the new strategic thinking of the Sub-Group on Test Facilities (SGTF) regarding the development of a Defence Test and Evaluation Base (DTEB), as well as the success in establishing the Test Facilities Database. Finally, NADs noted the continuing success of the EUROFINDER process; and the intention to hold a major European Defence R&T conference, in Paris on 9 and 10 September 2004.
NADs noted that there might be a need to hold an interim NADs meeting depending on the scale of the changes taking place in the EU affecting the future evolution of WEAG/WEAO; and agreed that the Autumn 2004 NADs Meeting would take place in Noordwijk on 21-22 October 2004. They also noted the Chair’s intention to call a WEAG Ministerial meeting in Brussels on 22 November 2004.
On 12 July, the GAERC (General Affairs and External Relations Council) of the European Union established the EDA (European Defence Agency).
The Ministers of Defense of the 19 WEAG Nations held their last meeting in Brussels on 22 November 2004.
In view of the establishment of this European Defence Agency and the intention of the Agency to assimilate or incorporate relevant principles and practices of WEAG as appropriate (paragraph 8 of the Preamble of the Joint Action), the Ministers recognised that European armaments co-operation in the future would take place within the European Union and that there is no longer a need for activities in the framework of the WEAG.
Therefore the Ministers decided to terminate these activities and to close WEAG. The Ministers tasked their National Armaments Directors (NADs) to implement their decision in co-ordination with the EDA, taking into account any political, administrative, procedural and legal aspects, and to close WEAG no later than 30 June 2005.
In the framework of the above ministerial decisions, NADs met in Brussels on 2 March 2005.
During that meeting, they closed panels I and III forthwith.
Concerning Panel II they:
- noted that the WEAG Chair has provided the EDA with a detailed and comprehensive list of WEAG Panel II assets;
- noted that the EDA has started the process of identifying, in consultation with WEAG/WEAO, a list of activities that the EDA views as valuable but for which it is not itself able to assume responsibility immediately;
- Noted that the list of these activities will be reported at their last meeting through the Staff Group;
- agreed to decide, on the basis of this list, which activities need to be hosted by the WEAO until the EDA takes them on board;
- noted that the MOUWG will provide its report through the Staff Group to WEAG NADs at their last meeting and that this report will propose a clear and practical way ahead, and noted that, subsequent to their decisions, the relevant bodies (e.g. EDA Steering Board, WEAO BoD) should take appropriate measures;
- agreed that Panel II will be closed on 23 May 2005;
- welcomed the Panel II seminar on R&T, to be held on 19 and 20 May 2005, in which EDA experts will be invited to participate.
They also took the necessary steps to close the Armaments Secretariat.
Individuals interested in European armaments activities previously pursued in WEAG are recommended to consult the EDA (European Defense Agency).