Ministers of Defence today met in the European Defence Agency (EDA) Steering Board, under the chairmanship of Federica Mogherini as the Head of the Agency. The EDA presented progress on the four capability programmes and initial roadmaps for potential future cooperative programmes: Biological Joint Deployable Exploitation and Analysis Laboratory (Bio-JDEAL), medical evacuation and anti-tank weapons. Minister of Defence also discussed the three year planning framework detailing the Agency’s work plan and priorities for 2016-2018 as well as the resources required to support this.
Three Year Planning Framework and 2016 General Budget
Federica Mogherini in her capacity as Head of Agency invited the Steering Board to approve the 2016 EDA General Budget of €33.5m.
Approval of the EDA budget requires unanimity. Despite very positive feedback by Member States on the work and support by the Agency, there was no unanimity on the increased budget. Instead, the budget will remain at this year’s level – €30.5m (zero growth).
Implementation of Key Taskings and Next Steps
Ministers of Defence welcomed the progress achieved in the four capability programmes: Air-to-Air Refuelling, cyber defence, governmental satellite communications, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.
Given the increasingly volatile and challenging security environment in and around Europe it is equally important that other critical capability priorities as identified in the Capability Development Plan also be addressed. Potential future cooperative activities require guidance to avoid fragmentation, focus future investment and give clarity to defence industry.
Ministers of Defence have today adopted the initial roadmaps for potential future cooperative programmes as proposed by the Agency: Biological Joint Deployable Exploitation and Analysis Laboratory (Bio-JDEAL), Medevac and Anti-Tank Weapons.
Bio-JDEAL: The proliferation of biological agents means the biological threat to Member States’ forces employed on operations remains real. Furthermore, the use of biological weapons or devices, particularly by non-state actors, can have a disproportionate effect on morale. Enhancing CBRN capabilities in operations has been outlined in the Agency’s Capability Development Plan as a priority action.
In order to counter these threats and assess the risk of exposure, a biological laboratory which could be deployed at short notice by a Member State would be able to:
- Conduct unambiguous in-theatre biological threat identification;
- Provide threat information to Command, enhancing the protection of EU forces and local populations and thus limiting casualties;
- Maintain Member States’ freedom of movement and action.
Following today’s approval, the roadmap foresees start of the expert group’s work still this year with a view to producing a Common Staff Target by the end of 2016 and a possible project launch by the end of 2017.
So far, eight Member States (Luxembourg, Slovakia, Romania, Germany, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy) and Norway have expressed interest in this project.
Medevac: Effective medical evacuation is a fundamental requirement for any military operation. Cooperation, interoperability, as well as common training, is paramount for Member States to constitute reliable MEDEVAC capabilities. As with the previous proposal, enhancing this capability is a priority action of the Capability Development Plan which was endorsed by Member States.
Following Minister’s endorsement, the work will start with a study on “Interoperability in Forward Aeromedical Evacuation with Rotary Wing” which will be launched this year. Based on the outcome of the study, the Agency will make proposals on possible interoperability activities and training.
This work builds on interest shown by seven Member States (Luxembourg, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Austria, Finland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy).
Anti-tank weapons: Anti-Tank capabilities are still of fundamental importance in the context of National security strategies. Some Member States still have in service equipment designed in the late 1970s which will become obsolete in the near future; they will need to consider upgrade or replacement of their systems. Others are willing to address the anti-tank weapon gap by developing new capability requirements potentially through joint procurement programmes.
To move ahead quickly, the Agency will together with Member States evaluate possible urgent requirements for commercial off-the-shelf solutions still in 2015. This project represents also a quick win opportunity for Pooling & Sharing.
Anti-tank is a domain where work will build on interest shown by nine Member States (Estonia, Romania, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Greece, Latvia) and Norway.