EDA and EU ministers of Defence call for cooperation to develop European military capability

European Ministers of Defence meeting within the Foreign Affairs Council held in Brussels on 9 December 2010 stressed the need to turn the financial crisis and its impact on national defence budgets into an opportunity. This same argument was also but forward at the European Defence Agency (EDA) steering board meeting, held in the margins of the Council, which immediately took the challenge and committed to pooling and sharing offers potential for savings, while increasing interoperable capacities.

European Ministers of Defence agreed on the need to give a new impetus to European military capability development in order to meet its level of ambition, to address remaining shortfalls and to safeguard the defence capabilities required to support the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) as well as to achieve national capability targets, while avoiding unnecessary duplication between Member States.

For that purpose, they stressed the need for cooperation as a force multiplier. The Council encouraged Member States to exchange information, as appropriate, and enhance transparency on current and forthcoming defence budget cuts, and to examine the impact of these budget cuts on capability development.

It also encouraged Member States to systematically analyse their national military capabilities and support structures, taking into to account criteria such as operational effectiveness, economic efficiency and sustainability.

Getting the most from civil-military synergies and support for European research defence investment

Ministers also underlined the potential benefits of developing civil-military synergies in capability development and the added-value of dual use capabilities. They emphasized the need for further cooperation between the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Commission, notably in research and technology.

Following new opportunities under the Lisbon Treaty regarding Defence Research at Union level, Ministers called for a constructive dialogue in the coming months between the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Agency and the participating Member States on the preparation of the 8th Framework Programme for investment in technology areas of common interest at the European Union level.

The Council also underlined the need to take advantage of the post-Lisbon context, including the establishment of the European External Action Service, as a catalyst for reinforcing coordination leading to a better and more coherent use of resources. Possibilities for the use of Permanent Structured Cooperation shall be explored in order to enhance defence capabilities with a view to strengthen the EU’s ability to respond to crises.

The Steering Board of the EDA approved that the Agency can start the book-building process for the new Joint Investment Programme (JIP) on protection against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats, with the nations willing to participate indicating their financial contributions. The JIP-CBRN is the first EDA programme in the context of the European Framework Cooperation, which aims at systematic synchronisation of research investment by the Agency, the European Commission and the European Space Agency.