The boundaries of the internal market: inter-European procurement of defence equipment in a national security context

The research of Bram Vroege LLM concerns the interpretation of national security as a concept of EU law and the manner in which this is applied in the context of the purchase of military materiel under EU public procurement law. National security forms a ground for exempting measures from EU law, and can be a reason to abstain from a European public procurement procedure. The interests of national security and the internal market regularly clash with one other in procurement practice, because many Member States wish to keep (parts of) their military production on their own soil for reasons of national security.

In his research, Vroege takes a systemic EU-constitutional approach to the topic of national security. That European system does not merely encompass an internal market, but also includes a common security and defence policy on the basis of which the Member States cooperate in the area of defence. As a part of this policy, the Member States have committed themselves to a solidarity clause requiring them to mutually defend each other’s soil. This shows that – despite the national focus – national security also has a European dimension. The aim of the research is to discover what this European dimension is, and what implications it may have for the interpretation of the EU defence procurement legislation.

As part of the research project, the effects of two fundamental principles of EU law are investigated: the principle of loyalty and the principle of mutual trust. These principles require – simply put – that Member States act in good faith towards each other and the European Union. As part of their national security policy, Member States can take certain measures which seem to be at odds with those principles, such as the imposition of an export ban against another Member State. It will be investigated whether the ‘good faith principles’ could serve to prevent the imposition of such measures.

Based on the insights regarding national security that will be gained in the course of this research, we can form a better picture of the margin of appreciation that Member States have in this area and develop frameworks for the application of EU defence procurement law in practice.

The research of Bram Vroege is conducted under the supervision of prof. dr. Elisabetta Manunza and prof. dr. Linda Senden.