At the European Council in December 2013, Heads of States and Government endorsed four major capability programmes proposed and prepared by the European Defence Agency. The launch of these four programmes and their associated roadmaps aim at addressing critical shortfalls and at supporting the European defence industry: Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR), Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), Governmental Satellite Communication and Cyber Defence.
The four capability programmes and high-level goals are:
- Air-to-Air Refuelling, with the objective of establishing a multinational fleet from 2019;
- Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, with the objective of laying the foundations for a European solution in the 2020-2025 timeframe;
- Governmental Satellite Communication, with the objective of preparing the next generation in the 2025 timeframe;
- Cyber Defence, with a focus on technology, training and protection of EU assets.
The European Council also endorsed EDA proposed measures to back defence industry in Europe, including SMEs, by supporting research and innovation in Europe through prioritisation (list of European critical defence technologies), investment in critical technologies and greater synergies with EU instruments.