“Italy Punches Below Its Weight on the European Defence Fund”, Michelangelo Freyre (IAI, Italy)

Italy is one of the pillars of the European defence technological and industrial base (EDTIB). The peninsula is home to some of the world’s most important defence companies, with the state-controlled prime contractor Leonardo Spa, the trans-European MBDA and shipmaker Fincantieri ranking in the top fifty defence companies by sales. These industries have a global reach and excel in crucial sectors such as rotary wings vehicles, electronics and more. However, it is becoming more and more clear that, on the European stage, Italian companies struggle to convert industrial and technical capabilities into project leadership. One just needs to observe the modest role that Italian aerospace and defence companies play in a key European cooperative programme, the European Defence Fund (EDF). Despite Rome’s involvement in previous initiatives enhancing European cooperation on defence research and development (R&D), the two first EDF rounds have seen Italy unable to exercise a degree of industrial and technological leadership corresponding to its industrial weight. While the sample is still too little to extrapolate a trend, a comparison to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) suggests that policy action is badly needed to bolster Italy’s role in EDF.

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