Collaborative programs: A step towards more efficient defense procurement in the EU?

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By Dr. Baudouin Heuninckx, Ph.D., D.Sc., LL.M., M.Sc., M.A., MCIPS. He is the Head of Aeronautical Programs of the Belgian Armed Forces’ Procurement Division and a part-time tutor at the Public Procurement Research Group of the University of Nottingham.

Collaborative programs, those in which a number of states agree to procure the development, production and/or support of a weapon system together, have become a prominent feature of defense procurement in Europe. However, the management structures and legal regimes of such programs are often considered inefficient because of large cost overruns and delays. This paper critically analyzes the process of collaborative defense procurement, in particular how such activities are initiated and managed, and the applicable law in the European Union. On this basis, it makes proposals to increase the efficiency of collaborative programs, essentially by consolidating and streamlining the related management structures and decision-making process. This paper is built around a black-letter analysis of the recent studies and academic publications on the subject, relevant legislation, rules and jurisprudence, and on the wide experience of the author in the management of collaborative programs.