What was agreed
The EUGS states that “gradual synchronisation and mutual adaptation of national defence planning cycles and capability development practices can enhance strategic convergence between Member States” and that “an annual coordinated review process at EU level to discuss Member States’ military spending plans could instil greater coherence in defence planning and capability development”.
The November 2016 Council Conclusions on the implementation of the EUGS responded to the call for an annual coordinated review process and tasked the High Representative / Head of the Agency to present proposals on the scope, method and content of such a review. The EDA, in cooperation with the European External Action Service (EEAS), produced a concept paper detailing these elements. This paper received advice from various EU bodies and wide support from Member States. On the basis of that work, the Council endorsed, on 18 May 2017, the modalities to establish the CARD, starting with a trial run involving all Member States as of autumn 2017. This trial run will allow the process to be tested and subsequently adapted based on lessons learned, ahead of the first full CARD cycle planned for autumn 2019.
The EDA’s role
Article 45 of the EU Treaty mandates the EDA to identify capability objectives and evaluate observance of commitments, promote harmonisation and propose multilateral projects. These functions make the EDA the ideal secretariat for the CARD, supporting Member States by gathering information on national capability plans and analysing this information to provide an aggregate view of the capability development landscape in Europe. Three information blocks will cover Member States’ aggregated defence plans, the implementation of the EU capability development priorities resulting from the CDP, and the development of European cooperation.
Member States’ CARD Initial Information
The EDA will make extensive use of existing information sources – the Agency will first analyse information already available in EDA databases and Member States’ replies to the EU Military Capability Questionnaire, or any other information Member States’ are willing to provide to the EDA. A “Member State CARD Initial Information” document will be produced by the EDA and sent to each individual Member State. This will provide the basis for bilateral discussions in capitals during which members of the EDA CARD team will meet with the Member States’ designated representatives to validate and supplement the information collected. A second, no less important part of the bilateral dialogue will focus on opportunities for cooperative capability development.
The CARD does not aim to assess or measure a Member State’s performance according to pre-set metrics. What it will instead do is perform a forward-looking analysis with a view to identifying means of achieving its stated goals: greater cooperation and more consistency between national defence plans and commonly agreed European capability development guidance while preserving Member States‘ sovereignty.
By presenting progress achieved within the European capability development landscape, the CARD should thus provide an opportunity to collectively review EU defence efforts in support of operational activities. Such contributions could include joint R&T, joint development or procurement, joint training, or common approaches to critical enablers. Member States’ participation in multinational operations and large scale military exercises could also be considered in the context of this European defence review.