Cooperation as a practical instrument |

Cooperation as a practical instrument for European defence policy

Cooperation as a practical instrument for European defence policy

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01 June 2020

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3 minutes

International security cannot be taken for granted. The balance between peaceful cooperation and stability is fragile – as we know only too well in Europe. The United States is shifting its attention (and defence spending) from Europe to China and in the meantime, Russia is seizing ever more power.

In its 2019 annual report, the Netherlands Defence Intelligence and Security Service notes that digital espionage by state actors such as the Russian Federation and China is one of the greatest threats facing the Netherlands and its allies.[1] An additional threat stemming from the corona crisis is the risk of hostile take-overs by China. According to the General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands, the country is a key target for foreign state actors in search of political and economic intelligence. For instance, espionage by China to acquire information on high value Dutch technology.[2] A Chinese acquisition of a Dutch company in this sector would have very far-reaching consequences.

International cooperation is essential to safeguard international security. And yet when it comes to defence, countries still stick largely to their own priorities, policies and equipment, underpinned by protectionist tendencies and the desire to be self-sufficient. The current corona crisis is a case in point, with EU member states producing and distributing face masks solely for use in their own country. At the same time, the corona crisis shows that, now more than ever, European countries do want to work together.

The European Union is taking increasing responsibility for defence and security policy and is promoting increased collaboration on defence projects. In 2017 the European Defence Fund was established to support member states achieve better value for money in defence spending, improve security for Europe’s citizens, and encourage joint R&D investments for defence equipment and technology.[3] However, the 27 EU member states cannot guarantee the security of their external borders in splendid isolation. Alongside the European Defence Fund more cooperation is called for: to recruit and train personnel and send them on exercises, and to develop, purchase and operationalise equipment. This is about people, research, manufacturing and maintenance.

To make a success of this cooperation you need people, funding and, above all, organisational skills. Berenschot can advise you on the extensive opportunities available to your organisation through the European Defence Fund. For instance, by identifying the capacity of partners to establish effective and strategic cooperation. The methodology we use to set up these collaborative projects is based on the Public Value model.

Public Value model

In his Public Value model, Mark Moore, a Harvard professor, distils how public sector organisations work in a network setting. He sets out three interlinked domains:

  • Public value: the outcomes for societies and regions, solutions to societal issues.
  • Legitimacy: the support for the delivery of public services and consensus among key stakeholders.
  • Organisational capacity: how to effectively organise and deliver public services.

Public value can be created effectively, efficiently and with legitimacy by doing the things that matter and achieving the right balance between these three domains.

Multi-stakeholder approach

Our multi-stakeholder approach offers you a practical framework for collaboration in businesses, organisations and institutions. The approach emphasises collaborative working on areas of mutual benefit, by reinforcing interactive cross-border and cross-sectoral stakeholder dialogues, among other things. The aim is to enable you to resolve the paradox between the need for international cooperation on the one hand and national protectionist tendencies on the other.

In addition, you can identify the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities for your organisation with the help of our defence impact scan, before going on to work with other stakeholders to set up collaborative European defence projects. Following the scan, we meet with you to go through the opportunities for joint defence initiatives in Europe. We take the outcomes of the scan as the basis for tailored recommendations and support you in organising the internal and external processes needed to establish practical and effective European collaborative projects. We then advise you how to incorporate the ambitious European security policy in your own strategy and organisation.


[2] (In Dutch only)


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