European defence matters. For the European Union to be a credible security provider and to protect its interests, it requires the full suite of tools: diplomatic, economic, development, and of course military.
Recent operations have demonstrated critical gaps in European military capabilities. But while defence budgets are under pressure and investment is in decline, costs of major defence systems are rising. For European Member States cooperation in defence is the solution to acquire and maintain critical capabilities.
Among other things, Heads of State and Government supported during the European Council meeting of December 2013 a more systematic and long-term approach to cooperation through increased transparency and information-sharing in defence planning.
Pooling & Sharing
Based on a German-Swedish food for thought paper on intensifying European military cooperation in 2010 (the “Ghent Initiative”), EDA together with its Member States developed the Pooling & Sharing initiative. The concept refers to initiatives and projects to pool and share more military capabilities among EU Member States. In November 2011 EDA proposed and Defence Ministers adopted an initial list of eleven Pooling & Sharing priorities. Among these projects are Air-to-Air Refuelling, the Helicopter Training Programme, maritime surveillance, or the EU Satcom Market procurement cell.
In its efforts to promote a systematic approach towards Pooling & Sharing, EDA proposed and Ministers adopted on 19 November 2012 the “Code of Conduct on Pooling & Sharing”. The Code comprises a series of actions to support cooperative efforts of EU Member States to develop defence capabilities. The actions herein are aimed at mainstreaming Pooling & Sharing in Member States’ planning and decision-making processes. They are to be implemented on a national and voluntary basis, in line with defence policies of Member States.
In December 2013 the European Council made a clear case for increased defence cooperation and welcomed the progress achieved by the Agency’s Code of Conduct on Pooling & Sharing. Additionally, during the November 2014 Steering Board, Defence Ministers adopted a Policy Framework to foster more systematic and long-term defence cooperation, as mandated by the December 2013 European Council. This aims to provide a coherent basis for defence cooperation in Europe, through in-service support, disposal and decommissioning. It complements the Code of Conduct on Pooling & Sharing whose main objective is to mainstream cooperation into national defence planning.