Capability Development Plan

The European Defence Agency produces updated Capability Development Plans (CDP) since 2008, in close cooperation with its Member States and with the active contributions of the EU Military Committee (EUMC) and the European Union Military Staff (EUMS).

The purpose of the periodic CDP revision, a key tasking of the Agency, is to provide a full capability picture that supports decision-making at EU and national levels regarding defence capability development. The overall objective is to increase coherence between Member States’ defence planning and to encourage European cooperation by looking together at future operational needs and defining common EU Capability Development Priorities.  The CDP revision benefits from several inputs such as the Headline Goal Process, studies on long-term trends, lessons from operations and information on current plans and programmes.

The CDP is regularly updated and the latest version was endorsed by the EDA Steering Board in Capability Directors formation in June 2018. It is of particular strategic significance as it serves as a baseline and reference for the implementation of major European defence initiatives launched following the 2016 EU Global Strategy: the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), and the European Defence Fund (EDF).

The most tangible output of the 2018 CDP revision are the 11 new EU Capability Development Priorities, developed together with Member States. They are the result of an in-depth assessment conducted on the basis of contributions provided by Member States, the EU Military Committee (EUMC) and the EU Military Staff (EUMS) on short-term, mid-term and long term trends: capability shortfalls analyses and lessons learned from recent CSDP operations; planned capabilities and the potential for future European cooperation in each of the capability domains; and a study into the long-term capability-related and technological trends and needs (2035 and beyond).

Capability Development Plan


  • General shortfalls and associated risks in the CDP context
  • Lessons learned from operations


  • Identification of planned capabilities
  • Identification of collaborative opportunities


  • Assessment of future trends (2025 – 2040 timeframe) taking into account technology innovation and R&T development


2018 EU Capability Development Priorities

Out of the 11 priorities, three are related to the Command, Control and Information/Cyber domain, two to land capabilities and logistics, two to the maritime domain, while three are dedicated to the air domain. One priority focusses on cross-domain capabilities contributing to achieving the EU Level of Ambition. There is no ranking between them.


Enabling capabilities for cyber responsive operation
  • Cyber cooperation and synergies;
  • Cyber R&T;
  • Systems engineering framework for cyber operations;
  • Cyber education and training;
  • Specific cyber defence challenges in the air, space maritime and land domain.


Space-based information and communication services
  • Earth observation;
  • Positioning, navigation and timing;
  • Space situational awareness;
  • Satellite communication.


Information superiority
  • Radio spectrum management;
  • Tactical CIS;
  • Information management;
  • Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.


Ground combat capabilities
  • Upgrade, modernise and develop land platforms (manned/unmanned vehicles, precision strike);
  • Enhance protection of forces. (CBRN, CIED, individual soldier equipment).


Enhanced logistic and medical supporting capabilities 
  • Military mobility;
  • Enhanced logistics;
  • Medical support.


Naval manoeuvrability
  • Maritime situational awareness;
  • Surface superiority;
  • Power projection.


Underwater control contributing to resilience at sea
  • Mine warfare;
  • Anti-submarine warfare;
  • Harbour protection.


Air superiority 
  • Air combat capability;
  • Air ISR platforms;
  • Anti-Access Area Denial (A2/AD) capability;
  • Air-to-air refuelling;
  • Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD).


Cross-domain capabilities contributing to achieve EU’s level of ambition 
  • Innovative technologies for enhanced future military capabilities;
  • Autonomous EU capacity to test and to qualify EU developed capabilities;
  • Enabling capabilities to operate autonomously within EU’s LoA.


Integration of military air capabilities in a changing aviation sector
  • Military access to airspace;
  • Ability to protect confidentiality of mission critical information;
  • Coordination with civilian aviation authorities;
  • Adaptation of military air/space C2 capability.


Air mobility
  • Strategic air transport;
  • Tactical air transport including air medical evacuation.



The priorities are implemented in an output-oriented way to facilitate the generation of cooperative projects aimed at closing identified capability shortfalls. To this end, the CDP implementation process is supported by the elaboration of so-called ‘Strategic Context Cases’ (SCC) which, for each of the 11 priorities, will present the main characteristics, opportunities and challenges in the short, medium and long term.  The SCC are prepared by EDA with the support of a wide network of experts from Member States, EU, NATO, other relevant multinational stakeholders, as well as industry.

Industry Consultation Portal

The main objective of this portal is to collect industry’s views to inform the development of the Strategic Context Cases (SCCs), one for each 2018 EU Capability Development Priorities, and contribute to the output orientation of the SCCs. 



Participating Member States

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • France
  • Croatia
  • Italy
  • Cyprus
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Finland
  • Sweden