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Submitted by on 19 Oct 2012 – 15:52

By State Secretary Marcus Rantala, Ministry of Defence, Finland

In our inter-dependent world, most challenges we face do not respect any borders and their impact can extend to all sectors in society. In this kind of environment the natural way to seek solutions is through multinational co-operation. Isolation or free riding are not viable options.

The global economic crisis is one example of growing inter-dependence. Its effects are felt all over Europe, and defence administrations are also affected. Defence budgets have been cut in most countries and we all strive to develop military capabilities that efficiently meet our security challenges at home and abroad. Operational requirements, rising costs of materiel and technology together with strained defence budgets make an equation, which is hard to solve without multinational co-operation. This is one of the reasons why Finland, too, seeks deeper multinational co-operation in order to develop, maintain and deploy our military capabilities.

Finland has played and continues to play an active role in supporting the comprehensive development of the EU‘s external actions and the establishment of the permanent planning and conduct capability. In the development of EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy the capability co-operation is an essential element. We should continue to look at how the extensive resources of the EU in areas like research and technology could further support defence co-operation.

As for the development of military capabilities, the central forum in the EU is the European Defence Agency (EDA). Its task is to facilitate co-operation between Member States. Finland has consistently supported the role of the EDA since its establishment in 2004.

Standards and procedures concerning inter-operability and military requirements stem from NATO, and the same standards are applied also in the defence co-operation within EU and the Nordic countries.
For Finland the Planning and Review Process (PARP) is the most important single tool that NATO offers to a partner country. It enhances extensively the development of capabilities and inter-operability of our Defence Forces. Finland has participated in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and the Planning and Review Process from the very beginning, for more than fifteen years. A new element in our co-operation with NATO is our participation in the NRF Response Forces Pool; this year, we contribute a Deployable CBRN Laboratory with a detachment of some 50 experts and next year, a Special Operations Task Group followed by Air Force and Navy units.

We will continue to use all partnership tools available for us to the fullest extent in the future as well. We consider that this enhances the cost-efficient and comprehensive development of our Defence Forces and secures the ability of our troops and systems to respond to all tasks, both national and international, that the Defence Forces may face.

Today multinational capability development takes often place in small groups when countries with similar needs and interests come together. Co-operation is further facilitated by a regional approach. This development does not conflict with the development in the EU and NATO, as co-operation is never a zero-sum game between different forums, but should be promoted on bilateral, regional, European and trans-atlantic levels. States that are interested in co-operation choose the best forum for each project on a case by case basis.

The Nordic countries are committed, both on the political and military levels, to defence co-operation (Nordic Defence cooperation, NORDEFCO). NORDEFCO is widely seen as an example of well-functioning regional co-operation, pooling and sharing and smart defence. Deepening co-operation aims at cost-efficiency and securing resources for the development and maintenance of core capabilities. Key areas for our co-operation are training and exercises, armaments co-operation, crisis-management and capabilities co-operation.

As incoming chair of NORDEFCO in 2013, Finland will focus on further promoting capability co-operation in order to take it yet one step further. We also see a lot of value in the increased inter-operability gained through training and exercises between the Nordic neighbours. From the Finnish point of view it is central that concrete and pragmatic results can be achieved alongside the political process in the work for Nordic co-operation.

The Northern Group of nations is a new form of defence co-operation which started in 2010 on the initiative of Great Britain. It now includes the Nordic and Baltic countries, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Poland.
For Finland the Northern Group is a discussion forum for questions relevant to Northern Europe, but the group may also help us identify opportunities for capabilities co-operation.

An important element is brought through bilateral co-operation. Even if the core capabilities of Finland’s defence are controlled by us, the maintenance and development depend on international co-operation. An excellent example is the acquisition and mid-life-update of our F-18 fighters in co-operation with the United States. The bilateral co-operation with the United States continues to be vital for Finland.

Seeking closer multinational defence co-operation is the only way to develop, maintain and deploy military capabilities. We consider that this trend will only intensify by the 2020s. Close co-operation and enhanced networks do not offer us security guarantees, but are essential for securing capabilities in the future. By taking part actively in multinational defence co-operation we can also deliver whenever new co-operation areas, procedures, structures or requirements are created and developed.