Jorge Domecq, the Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA), today attended the 20th birthday ceremony of the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement (OCCAR) in its new premises in Bonn. At that occasion, he welcomed the close and productive working relationship established between the EDA and OCCAR on the basis of the Administrative Arrangement signed in July 2012 and called for an even stronger cooperation in the future to bring forward potential new collaborative defence equipment programmes, also in view of the opportunities that the recent EU defence initiatives provide.
“I am very glad to be here today on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of OCCAR. Since 2012, EDA and OCCAR have established close relations which are continuously evolving, aiming to complement each other’s strengths in promoting effective defence cooperation while ensuring through-life capability development”, Mr Domecq stated.
The close relationship between the two organisations started immediately after the creation of the EDA in 2004 but gathered additional momentum in November 2008 when the EU Council of Ministers invited the EDA to seek the “greatest synergy” with OCCAR and to conclude an Administrative Arrangement (AA), which was subsequently negotiated and signed in 2012. It foresees that both cooperate in a way that is “mutually reinforcing, non-duplicative, coherent and complementary” in order to enhance Europe’s defence capabilities, improve European armaments cooperation and strengthen the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB). The conclusions and recommendations of EDA’s Long Term Review (LTR), approved by Defence Ministers in May 2017, explicitly acknowledge “the potential of the EDA-OCCAR relations to further evolve into a more structured and reciprocal approach towards key European capability programmes, ensuring seamless coordination and coherence between both organisations”.
Division of labour
While EDA main role is to initiate and facilitate European collaborative defence capability ad hoc projects and programmes, OCCAR’s provides for cooperative programme management expertise. Close cooperation between EDA and OCCAR ensures through-life managementon capability development. This division of labour proved successful, for example, in the development of the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) in which participate five countries (NL, LUX, DE, NOR, BE) and whose aim is to mitigate Europe’s shortfall in Air-to-Air refueling capabilities. Initiated by the EDA in 2012, it was later handed over to OCCAR who currently manages the acquisition of MRTT tankers on behalf of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) which, following the acquisition phase, will be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet. Other example: the Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS) programme. Launched in an EDA framework in 2013, it was taken up by four Member States (DE, FR, IT, ES) before being handed over to OCCAR in 2016 for further development (definition, configuration, etc.) while EDA continues to provide support to the programme upon its expertise. Indeed, in September 2016, EDA and OCCAR concluded an arrangement under which EDA will continue to provide support to the MALE RPAS programme in the field of air traffic integration building on the work already achieved and on the on-going activities related to the integration of military RPAS in the Single European Sky approach.
OCCAR was initially established by an Administrative Arrangement signed by the Defence Ministers of France, Germany, Italy and the UK on 12 November 1996. In 1998, the Defence Ministers of the four founding Member States signed the treaty-like "OCCAR Convention", which was subsequently ratified by the national Parliaments and came into force on 28th January 2001. The Convention gives OCCAR its legal status, allowing it to award contracts and to employ its own staff. Belgium and Spain joined OCCAR respectively in 2003 and 2005.