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European Programme Group

Volume 928: debated on Thursday 17 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if, with reference to paragraph 151 of Command Paper No. 6735, he will list the achievements of the European Programme Group since it was set up in 1976.

I refer to paragraph 152 of the Command paper and to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. MacFarquhar) on 22nd December last. The achievements of the group to date are as follows:

  • (a) explicit agreement by all European members of NATO, except Iceland, that the Group constitutes the main European forum for collaboration in defence equipment;
  • (b) agreement by all members of the Group, including France, to the purposes listed in paragraph 151;
  • (c) in pursuance of these, the preparation of comprehensive European replacement schedules, which are, I believe, the fullest of their type yet compiled; the establishment of ten studies on the potential for equipment co-operation in specific fields; and the establishment of a panel to study various general aspects of defence procurement co-operation in Europe;
  • (d) work is also in hand to examine European interests in defence procurement in the context of the Alliance as a whole.
  • All of these studies are being pursued actively. While new weapons systems take years to develop, successful co-operative development of this kind will strengthen the European industrial base and promote the use of standardised weapon systems in NATO. The Government are satisfied with progress to date and are encouraged by the willingness of all members of the group to tackle realistically this important but difficult field of international co-operation.