HC Deb 19 September 2003 vol 410 cc1159-60W
Mr. Gerald Howarth

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the contribution of a European armaments policy to the development of the European security and defence policy; and what contribution his Department has made to the plans of the European Commission to develop such a policy. [130805]

Mr. Ingram

The Government are committed to playing a leading role in the development of European security and defence policy. Working with other European Union partners, we are actively engaged in the creation of an inter-Government Agency in the field of defence capabilities, development, research, and acquisition. The Agency, which will be capability focussed, will, inter alia, promote and enhance European armaments co-operation with the aim of contributing to the military equipment needs of member states in a cost effective and efficient manner. The Government's view of the Commission's initiative to develop European armaments related proposals are set out in the Explanatory Memorandum on European Community Document entitled: "Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Social and Economic Committee of the Regions "European Defence Industrial and Market Issues: Towards an EU Defence Equipment Policy" Reference Number 8484/03 [COM (2003) 113 final] dated 15 May 2003, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. The Government notes that armaments are primarily a matter for European Union member states with any contribution from the Commission being in support of national Governments' initiatives.