As the nature of international relations is becoming ever more complex and volatile, so are security dynamics and defence requirements, with a direct repercussion on how states mobilize and employ coercive measures and the way the Defence Industry adapts and reframes its role. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, traditionally characterized by fluid military dynamics and entrenched security threats, the economic fallout caused by COVID-19 is exacerbating some of the root causes that stoke insecurity in the first place. Such developments suggest the need, on the part of states and relevant security actors, for a more holistic approach to regional security that goes beyond the traditional benchmark of defence spending and integrates hard dimensions of security within a wider spectrum of initiatives, both on the political and socio-economic levels. This also includes enhanced security cooperation between Europe and MENA countries, possibly in line with the EU strategic compass, which should also involve the defence sector. As the current EU leadership considers a solid defence industry instrumental in forging a stronger geopolitical role, the priorities remain a deeper EU cooperation, increased investments – especially in R&D and qualified skills -, better public-private integration and clearer defence goals from both states and Brussels itself. Last but not least, EU defence firms and designated defence institutions should focus on new technologies (i.e. AI and hypersonic propulsion) in order to preserving the technological edge over future competitors.
Lorenzo Guerini, Minister of Defence, Italy
John R. Allen, President, Brookings Institution, USA
Alessandro Profumo, CEO, Leonardo, Italy
Giampiero Massolo, President, Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), Italy