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EFSI exclusion policy harms CSDP investments

posted 4 Jan 2016, 06:11 by Jan Wind   [ updated 4 Jan 2016, 08:12 ]

Europe should lift the ban on defence related technology for the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). 

The conclusions of the European Council of December 2013 once again stressed that an integrated, sustainable, innovative and competitive European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) is of extremely great importance for a credible and effective Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Government funded Research and Development is an important element to improve the EDTIB, but a healthy economic eco system for private companies is of equal or even more importance. Policy elements that disallow corporations to participate in regular financial systems undermine their effectiveness and force these companies to lean stronger on the scarce government funding sources. 

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) has been developed by the European Commission to revive investment in strategic projects around Europe to ensure that investors money reaches the real economy. This should unlock private investments of at least EUR 315 billion until 2018. The guarantee fund of EUR 21 billion focusses on specific objectives, namely to increase the volume of higher risk projects and address the market failure in risk-taking which hinders investment in Europe. This is exactly the area where the EDTIB should be supported to enable more R&D work and innovations using less government subsidies, grants and development contracts. 

The EFSI is however operated by the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is limited in their work by a series of “Excluded Activities”. These include “Ammunition and weapons, military/police equipment or infrastructure, explosives and sporting weapons”. In practice the EIB and related organisations like the EIF, EBRD, EFSI and national implementation agencies can and will not participate in any activity related to Defence. This exclusion reinforces the failure of the defence technology market rather than improving this economic sector as is called for in the CSDP.

Following the EIB exclusion policy many regular European banks are concerned about potential image damage if they participate in defence investments, even when called for by the CSDP, EDA or a national government. The exclusion policy is damaging for the financial eco system of the EDTIB.

Private investments in the defence and security sector could partially lift the pressure on national governments to spend large amounts in defence R&D, particularly in dual use technologies where a regular market (could) exist [[1]]. Limited national and EDA funds could then be directed to those military technologies where market failure remains in existence.

The exclusion rules for the EIB should be lifted or changed into “exclusion of investments and loans in controversial weapons as agreed in international treaties”. National governments and regular banks could subsequently implement a similar policy.

[1] See Euro-view by Jan Wind in Security Europe magazine (15 dec 2015):