New 2018 EU Capability Development Priorities Approved
(Source: European Defence Agency; issued June 28, 2018)
BRUSSELS --- The EDA Steering Board in Capability Directors formation today endorsed the 2018 Capability Development Plan and approved the associated EU Capability Development Priorities as a key reference for Member States’ and EU’s capability development initiatives.

The Plan and its Priorities will be instrumental in identifying future cooperative activities irrespective of the chosen cooperation framework, including under PESCO and the European Defence Fund (EDF).

“Since 2016, the European defence project has picked up speed. Based on the 2016 EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, several initiatives have been launched to reinforce defence cooperation: the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), and the European Defence Fund (EDF). Today’s adopted EU Capability Development Priorities serve as their benchmark to ensure that their combined outcome will be a more coherent set of deployable, interoperable, sustainable capabilities and forces”, says Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA).

The Capability Development Plan (CDP) provides a full capability picture that supports decision-making processes at EU and national level regarding military capability development, thus contributing to increased coherence between Member States’ defence planning. It addresses security and defence challenges from the perspective of European capability development, looks at the future operational environment and defines EU Capability Development Priorities agreed by Member States.

The revised 2018 CDP has been developed in the framework of the European Defence Agency (EDA) in close cooperation with Member States and reflects key contributions from the EU Military Committee and the EU Military Staff.

The CDP is a shared EU reference informing national capability planners on capability requirements over time. Member States’ defence planners are encouraged to use it to identify priorities for capability improvement and opportunities for cooperation.

A more output oriented CDP

One of the novelties of the 2018 CDP is that it considers evolutions in the wider European security and defence environment taking into account the necessity to counter hybrid threats and the adaptation to the new EU Level of Ambition agreed by Member States. The 2018 Plan also looks at the entire spectrum of capability development and underpins the identification of cooperative activities that can be implemented by Member States in the cooperation framework of their choice.

The 2018 CDP is output oriented and this will be further reinforced by the development of Strategic Context Cases as of the second half of 2018, with a view to support Member States in the implementation of the 2018 EU Capability Development Priorities.

Subsequently the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) will help operationalising the CDP by reviewing Member States’ implementation of the 2018 EU Capability Development Priorities and by identifying additional opportunities for cooperation.

Finally, the coherence between capability, R&T and industrial domains will be reinforced by the interaction between the CDP, the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda, Key Strategic Activities and the engagement with industry.

The CDP Process

The CDP includes a capability shortfalls analysis from the CSDP perspective, as well as lessons learned from recent operations provided by the EU Military Committee. The mid-term dimension assesses the potential for cooperation for each capability. The CDP finally offers an assessment of future trends (2035 and beyond) and needs for each capability by linking long-term technology trends to future capability requirements and related R&T needs as well as industrial perspectives.

EU Capability Development Priorities

Based on the identified trends, information gathered from Member States, the EU Military Committee and the EU Military Staff, a set of EU Capability Development Priorities were proposed by EDA and agreed by Member States. On the one hand, they address main capability shortfalls for deployed operations (land, maritime and air capabilities as well as logistic and medical support) with a reinforced focus on high-end warfare. On the other hand, they also cover other national focus areas, such as the adaptation of military capabilities required for territorial defence and security or cyber defence.

The 2018 EU Capability Development Priorities cover the following lines of action:
-- Enabling capabilities for cyber responsive operations
-- Space-based information and communication services
-- Information superiority
-- Ground combat capabilities
-- Enhanced logistic and medical supporting capabilities
-- Naval manoeuvrability
-- Underwater control contributing to resilience at sea
-- Air superiority
-- Air mobility
-- Integration of military air capabilities in a changing aviation sector
-- Cross-domain capabilities contributing to achieve EU’s level of ambition

After today’s approval, EDA will start the preparatory work for the implementation of the 2018 Priorities, including through the elaboration of Strategic Context Cases. The Agency will also conduct bilateral training sessions with Member States in support of national defence planners as well as with the EU Military Staff, the European External Action Service and other stakeholders upon their request.

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