BRUSSELS --- The European Defence Agency’s (EDA) ministerial Steering Board met this Monday afternoon under the chairmanship of the Head of the Agency, Federica Mogherini. Defence ministers adopted the Agency’s 2018 budget, approved its 2018-2020 work programme and endorsed the EDA’s role and next steps in the field of cyber defence and in support of Military Mobility in Europe.
Ministers approved the EDA’s general budget for 2018 set at €32.5 million (a 5% increase on the 2017 general budget), reflecting the increasing demands on the Agency, including as part of the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), its activities as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) secretariat and in preparation for the European Defence Fund (EDF).
Jorge Domecq, the EDA’s Chief Executive, stated: “Today’s budget increase is a clear and unanimous recognition of the growing tasks and responsibilities given to the Agency by the Member States after the recent Long Term Review (LTR). Our work on CARD, PESCO, and the EDF will further focus our work on tackling capability gaps and we will make sure the additional funding serves our Member States’ attainment of their Level of Ambition”.
With the expected increase of EDA’s activities, the Agency has been tasked to assess the long-term resource implications by spring 2018, including if and to what extent the EU budget should cover the Agency’s administrative and operational expenditure.
2018-2020 work programme
Minister approved the EDA’s Three-Year Planning Framework (2018-2020), whose priorities for the year ahead include:
-- identification and prioritisation of cooperation opportunities: revision of the Capability Development Plan (CDP) by spring, conduct of the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) trial run and presentation of first CARD report to Ministers in autumn, finalisation of the first fully-fledged Overarching Strategic Research Agenda in June;
-- support to implementation of PESCO: project identification, preparation, consolidation and management support, and annual assessment of participating Member States' capability commitments;
-- preparations for the Capability Window of the European Defence Fund: the EDA is expected to play a key upstream and downstream role in supporting Member States including in the uptake of technologies;
-- conclusion of the Pilot Project and pursuit of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR), as well as the preparation for the future European Defence Research Programme (EDRP).
Military Mobility in Europe
The Steering Board welcomed the EDA’s role in support of Military Mobility within the EU, to facilitate and expedite military mobility across its territory. Ministers called on the Agency to present a detailed action plan by spring 2018, in close cooperation with the EUMC, EEAS, the Commission and all relevant stakeholders. These efforts should be coherent with the respective NATO initiatives in this area.
In September, the EDA set up a dedicated ad hoc working group on military mobility to address the persistent shortfalls and promote better coordination and enhanced synergies among all stakeholders. The expert group will deliver its report in spring 2018, based on which the High Representative and the Commission will build an Action Plan on Military Mobility, as foreseen in the Joint Communication of 10 November.
Ministers welcomed the EDA’s achievements on cyber defence capability development and invited it to develop and submit proposals to Member States on the establishment of a Cyber Defence Training and Education platform, in coordination with EEAS and the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) and with the support of the Commission.
Engagement with Third Parties
Ministers also endorsed the principles guiding EDA’s future engagement with Third Parties, notably that it must support the objectives of the CSDP (as its stands today and develops in the future) and that the arrangement has to support participating Member States’ interest as regards capability development across the full lifecycle.