From 30-31 March 2010, the European Commission, DG ENTR, hold its last conference on “Towards an action plan for strengthening European Small and Medium sized Enterprises in the Defence Sector”. BHO Legal took part in the conferece in order to collect for its clients the current status of the Commission`s actions and important information “first hand” regarding the defence sector and SME therein.
In its key note speech, Acting Head of Unit H1 (Aerospace, defence and security) Luigi Vitiello pointed out that regarding the Transfer Directive, Guidelines on its application are being drafted. SMEs are now afraid of an additional procedural burden regarding the application of these Guidelines. The Commission has taken this into acoount an endeavours to minimize this burden. Mr. Vitiello also stressed that the implementation of the Directive should reduce the possibilities of offsets and thereby strenghten SME businesses. Regarding the Defence Procurement Directive, the conferenciers discussed Article 21 on sub-contracting contentiously. Dagmar Metzger, Policy Officer at H1, highlighted in her speech the reasons for SME refraining from the defence market. One of the reasons was the lack of accessible information and clients, others offsets policies, regulations favouring domestic SMEs, administrative burden, IPR costs and user rights. Major issues which will be dealt with in the future will be Article 21 of the Defence Directive and the question whether the 8th Framework Programme should entail co-founding of defence equipment research. Mrs. Metzger pointed out, that this remains to be decided by the Member States. Peter Taal of EDA highlighted in his speech the “Guidelines for facilitating SMEs’ access to the defence market” which also deal with procurement. In BHO Legal’s view, these Guidelines should be taken into account also by the German legislator when implementing the Defence Directive.