50 shades of procurement: the European defense trilemma in defense procurement strategies


  • Josselin Droff Chair of Defense Economics, IHEDN
  • Julien Malizard Chair of Defense Economics, IHEDN




strategy of acquisition, institutions, industrial strategic autonomy


This article examines the strategic choices of countries regarding their acquisition of defense equipment, given the strategic and economic constraints that they have faced since the end of the Cold War. As Augustine’s laws make it increasingly complicated to develop and produce all the necessary weapons for a single country, countries must balance the wishful thinking of preserving industrial strategic autonomy and the cost of doing so under the constraint of meeting the needs of their armed forces. We discuss a trilemma of the European countries between independence, manageable costs, and economic spinoff. We analyze several procurement alternatives, including national production, European cooperative production, licensed production, off-the-shelf purchase, leasing, and capacity abandonment. Maximizing both strategic and economic advantages, is a myth. There is no “silver bullet” in terms of acquisition choice, and the returns on investment depend on countries’ preferences, goals, and markets.


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How to Cite

Droff, J., & Malizard, J. (2023). 50 shades of procurement: the European defense trilemma in defense procurement strategies. The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.15355/epsj.18.1.18




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