At the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) ministerial Steering Board which met this Thursday morning under the chairmanship of HR/VP Federica Mogherini in her capacity as Head of the Agency, Defence ministers endorsed the conclusions & recommendations of EDA’s Long Term Review (LTR), approved the establishment the Cooperative Financial Mechanism (CFM) as an EDA Ad-Hoc Cat A programme and encouraged the Agency to continue, together with the EEAS, its work on the definition of the planned Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD).
The Long Term Review (LTR) conclusions and recommendations endorsed by Ministers will reinforce the Agency to keep it fit for purpose in the light of upcoming, more ambitious tasks and challenges deriving from the EU’s new Global Strategy.
Set to be implemented over the coming months, the agreed measures will strengthen the EDA as the main intergovernmental prioritisation instrument at EU level in support of capability development, with a more output-oriented Capability Development Plan (CDP) and a key role in operating the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD).
They also will enhance the EDA as the preferred cooperation forum and management support structure at EU level to engage in technology and capability development activities, ranging from R&T to critical enablers, exercise and training as well as support to operations, including the industrial dimension. The Agency is also to be reinforced as an interface between Member States and EU institutions and as a central operator for EU-funded defence-related activities such as, for example, the upcoming Preparatory Action on defence research and the future European Defence Research Programme.
Cooperative Financial Mechanism (CFM)
Ministers welcomed the financial and legal package presented by the Agency and approved the setting up of an Cooperative Financial Mechanism as an EDA Ad-Hoc CAT A programme. Negotiations with Member States on a Programme Arrangement will start soon. The EDA was invited to report to the Steering Board on progress made during these negotiations before the signature of the Programme Arrangement.
The objective of the Cooperative Financial Mechanism, to which contributing Member States would participate and contribute on a strictly voluntary basis, is to incentivize defence cooperation by overcoming the lack of budgetary synchronisation between Member States and the problems that this causes for the launch of cooperative defence cooperation projects. Experience has shown that unsynchronized budget availability at the launch phase of a collaborative programme is one of the key challenges.
Through the CFM, Member States can support each other via a system of reimbursable advances and deferred payments. The mechanism can also be used more widely as a hub for managing investments, such as EDA R&T projects, and ring-fencing resources allocated for cooperative purposes. It will facilitate the launch of collaborative projects and have positive repercussions in capability, technological and industrial terms.
Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD)
Ministers welcomed the work carried out by the EDA, in close cooperation with EEAS, on the definition of the scope, principles, methodology and detailed modalities of the CARD which will start with a trial run as of this autumn. The Agency was encouraged to pursue this work. Minister agreed to present a report on the trial run to the Steering Board in November 2018.
The CARD aims at facilitating Member States delivering in particular on EU capability development priorities agreed in the framework of the Capability Development Plan (CDP). The CARD will also allow Defence Ministers to regularly take stock of the European capability development landscape, assess progress in cooperative capability development to date and share information on defence spending plans.
Engagement with industry, other topics
Ministers endorsed EDA’s revised approach towards establishing a structured dialogue and enhanced engagement with industry based on a set of priority actions focused on the capability development process, exercises, R&T prioritization, innovation, SES/SESAR, Key Strategic Activities and support to industry. These priorities will guide the 2017-2018 activities of EDA in relation to industry. The Steering Board tasked the Agency with presenting an assessment report of these priorities and their implementation in November 2018.
Ministers also welcomed the work already conducted by the EDA on the Preparatory Action on Defence Research, with the Delegation Agreement expected to be signed end of May. Ministers also took stock of the Agency’s main cooperative programmes (such as, for example, Air-to-Air Refuelling, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems - RPAS, GovSatCom and Cyberdefence) and reviewed the progress made in other projects within the portfolio of more than 50 capability projects currently run by the EDA.