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UK and France come together for first Industry Day

British Defence Minister Peter Luff and French Délégué Général Laurent Collet-Billon hosted the inaugural UK-France Industry Day in London today to forge closer ties between the two key allies and their military markets

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Royal Navy frigate HMS Monmouth and French frigate FS La Fayette conduct maritime security operations in the Gulf (stock image)

Royal Navy frigate HMS Monmouth and French frigate FS La Fayette conduct maritime security operations in the Gulf (stock image) [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Stuart Hill, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The event, attended by more than 30 defence companies at prime, sub-contractor and small-medium enterprise levels, provided a forum for both governments to engage with industry and discuss issues relevant to last November’s Franco-British Treaty.

Representatives from both the UK and French defence industries attending the event were able to present their views, share experiences and build new networks that could potentially lead to Franco-British joint ventures, partnerships and investment.

Discussions ranged from joint co-operation on equipment and capabilities, including research and technology, to addressing export licensing and consolidation of industrial sectors and investments.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, said:

Since the British Prime Minister and French President signed the Treaty on Defence Co-operation we have made excellent progress, but real and significant opportunities lie ahead.

I look forward to British and French industry taking this opportunity to share experiences and build new alliances. This is a strategic relationship and, although there will be short term benefits, our real success will come over years not months.

British and French soldiers taking part in Exercise Pre-Flandres earlier this year

British and French soldiers taking part in Exercise Pre-Flandres earlier this year [Picture: Corporal James Williams RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

“This is a marathon not a sprint, and I hope our industries approach this relationship in that spirit.”

Monsieur Collet-Billon emphasised that, in a difficult economic context, alliances are natural and provide opportunities not only for sovereign nations, but also for Europe and NATO. He said:

The depth of the Franco-British partnership is unique, relying on the wide range of interests and policies both countries share.

Co-operation in acquisition, research and technology, capability planning, procurement and support is a vital component in a transformed defence relationship and a significant means of securing both military capability and necessary budgetary savings in a time of financial austerity.

We needed to deliver effective military equipment in the most efficient manner, minimising national constraints, developing interdependence where possible and strengthening industrial competitiveness.

The hosts welcomed the close relationship between UK Aerospace, Defence and Security industries and the Conseil des Industriels de Defense Françaises.

This was formalised through the signature on 13 July 2010 of a new Memorandum of Understanding aimed at bringing the industries of both countries closer together in support of the treaty’s objectives.

Today’s event was organised and supported by the UK Trade and Investment Defence & Security Organisation and was held at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Conference Suite in London.

Peter Luff, as Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology at the UK Ministry of Defence, leads on equipment procurement and support programmes, including the Joint Supply Chain, science and technology, and industrial policy, and on the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Defence Support Group, the Oil and Pipelines Agency and the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

Laurent-Collet Billon is Chief Executive of Direction generale de l’armement (DGA) within the French Ministry of Defence. He leads on equipment programmes, preparation of the future capability, industrial strategy and export promotion. DGA is the first governmental investor in France.

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Published 20 July 2011