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10 years in 50 dates

2004, 12 July

The European Council formally adopts the Joint Action that officially creates the European Defence Agency. Shortly after, Nick Witney is appointed Chief Executive of the Agency by Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.



The new Agency sets up a strategic framework for defence, built around three main pillars: Research & Technology Strategy ; Armaments Cooperation Strategy ; and European Defence Technological and Industrial Base Strategy, headed by a Capability Development Plan. At the same time, the European Defence Agency adopts a capability-driven approach, where capability needs and requirements would drive the whole chain of defence cooperation. EDA begins work on the creation of an European Defence Equipment Market (EDEM).
Nick Witney
Absorbing the work of WEAG and WEAO into EDA will give R&T collaboration a much stronger political impulse”.
Nick Witney, EDA Chief Executive (2005)
April 2005
The Steering Board agrees that the Agency should gradually take over the activities of the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG) and the Western European Armaments Organisation (WEAO) by the first quarter of 2006.

November 2005
EDA Steering Board of Defence Ministers approves an “intergovernmental regime to improve the transparency and promotion of competition in the European defence equipment market” together with a “Defence Procurement Code of Conduct”.
December 2005
The first R&T contract is awarded by EDA to a consortium led by Patria for a study regarding remotely piloted air systems (RPAS), technologies and focusing on “Digital Line of Sight & Beyond Line of Sight Data Links”.



February 2006
The first EDA Annual Conference gathers high-level officials from Member States and EU institutions, providing the first major opportunity to engage with stakeholders around the Agency’s new agenda. 
March 2006 
An administrative arrangement is signed with Norway, enabling the country to take part in EDA projects and programmes.

April 2006 
The Measures to support the implementation of EDA’s “Defence Procurement Code of Conduct” are approved. Shortly after, the Executive Committee of the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) agrees to co-sign the Code of Best Practice in the Supply Chain (CoBPSC), committing its members to abide by this Code when it is technically and financially viable in its subcontracts.
July 2006 
A Code of Conduct for promoting competition in defence procurement is launched and subscribed to by all EDA Member States. 
October 2006 
Work begins on the first Joint Investment Programme (JIP) on Research and Technology. The programme set out to study 18 technologies relating to five military capabilities focused on protecting the Armed Forces. Nineteen countries join the 55 M€ programme, including Norway.
2006 keynote speech
From left to right : Hilmar Linnenkamp (EDA Deputy Chief Executive), Thomas Enders (ASD president),
Gunther Verheugen (European Commissionner for Entreprise and Industry),
Javier Solana (Head of EDA) and Nick Witney (EDA Chief Executive) during a 2006 keynote speech.


January 2007
Bulgaria and Romania join the European Defence Agency. 
February 2007
The second EDA Annual Conference takes place, this time focusing on the European Defence Technological & Industrial Base (EDTIB). This lays the ground work for the approval of Europe’s Defence Technological and Industrial Base Strategy in May the same year. 
“Strategies are needed - they provide direction and define aims ­but, naturally, they themselves do not deliver capabilities. We need concrete programmes and projects to turn theory into practice.
This is where I want to see change”.

Alexander Weis, EDA Chief Executive (2007)
May 2007 
Alexander Weis, who was previously acting as Chief of Staff in the Directorate General of Armaments of the German Ministry of Defence, is appointed as EDA Chief Executive by Javier Solana. He takes office in October.
December 2007
The Agency signs first contracts under a new R&T Joint Investment Programme dedicated to Force Protection, representing a total investment of more than € 13 million.
2007 EDA Annual Conference
The 2007 EDA Annual Conference focuses on the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base


May 2008
Defence Ministers launch the Agency’s second Joint Investment Programme, on emerging technologies that may negatively impact the battlefield (Disruptive Defence Technologies). Eleven countries join the project, investing a total of 15.5M€.
July 2008
The Steering Board endorses the initial version of the Capability Development Plan (CDP), developed in close cooperation with participating Member States, the Council Secretariat and the EU Military Committee with the support of the EU Military Staff. A driver for the work of all the Agency’s Directorates, the CDP is designed to be a strategic tool and to define future capability needs from the short to longer term. The CDP intends to inform national plans and programmes, but is not a supranational plan. It is designed to be constantly refreshed to take into account evolving strategic challenges as well as Member States’ potential new priorities.
November 2008 
A declaration of intent is signed by 12 countries to establish a European Air Transport Fleet (EATF), with the objective of reducing European air transport shortfalls by all means available. At the same time, ten Member States plus Norway agree to work together for the future replacement of their maritime mine countermeasures (MMCM) capabilities.



March 2009
The fourth annual conference of the Agency focuses on shortfalls in helicopter capabilities. It paves the way for the approval of the Helicopter Training Programme a few months later, in November. The same month, the first EDA Helicopter Exercise is hosted in the French Alps, marking the beginning of a series a successful rotary-wing training event that are now hosted by partner Member States on an annual basis. Work is launched on the establishment of a Procurement Cell to coordinate EU Member States’ orders of commercial satellite communication services. Beginning as a three-year pilot project, this successful initiative will later evolve into what is now known as the EU Satcom Market.
June 2009 
The Steering Board endorses the initial version of the Capability Development Plan (CDP), developed in close cooperation with participating Member States, the Council Secretariat and the EU Military Committee with the support of the EU Military Staff. A driver for the work of all the Agency’s Directorates, the CDP is designed to be a strategic tool and to define future capability needs from the short to longer term. The CDP intends to inform national plans and programmes, but is not a supranational plan. It is designed to be constantly refreshed to take into account evolving strategic challenges as well as Member States’ potential new priorities.
July 2009
The Defence and Security Procurement Directive is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. It sets community procurement rules which are adapted to the specificities of the defence and security sectors. It allows, for example, the use of the negotiated procedure with publication as the standard procedure and provides special provisions for security of supply and security of information.

"The Helicopter Training Programme is another tangible result of the European Defence Agency’s work. It will deliver immediately more helicopter capabilities, which we all know is a continuous
shortfall in deployed operations”.

Javier Solana, Head of EDA and High Representative
of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, 2009.

November 2009
Catherine Ashton is appointed as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission. Starting 1 December 2009, she acts as Head of the European Defence Agency and leads its Steering Board.
Launch of the MIDCAS project
Launch of the MIDCAS project during the 2009 Paris Air Show


February 2010
The annual conference focuses on civil-military cooperation under the heading “Bridging Efforts - Connecting Civilian Security and Military Capability Development”. 
April 2010
A “Wise Pen Team” of five admirals submits its report to the Ministerial Steering Board regarding Maritime Surveillance needs in support of CSDP, effectively paving the way for EDA’s work as part of the Marsur program. 
Catherine Ashton
“The Agency has quickly reacted to the needs of European Defence Ministers, who are looking for opportunities to work closely together in order to improve capabilities while budgets are under pressure. Pooling and sharing offers potential for savings, while increasing interoperable capacities”.
Catherine Ashton, Head of EDA and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (2010)
July 2010
The European Defence Agency and the European Commission co-organise a conference dedicated to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Over 450 senior government officials and industry representatives gather to discuss the potential of UAS for European users, their economic, technological and industrial impact, as well as a common European way forward.  
November 2010
A new cooperative idea arises under the Belgian presidency of the EU. Following an initial German-Swedish food for thought paper known as the “Ghent initiative” and presented during an informal meeting of the Defence Ministers, the concept of “Pooling & Sharing” national military capabilities emerges. It will guide the Agency’s actions and projects for the following years.  
“There is now a widespread understanding that the “pooling and sharing” of military capabilities - doing more together - is an effective response, if not the only possible response, to the financial and military pressure we face. It allows us to deliver
more with less. It has become a must,
rather than an option”.

Pieter De Crem, Belgian Minister of Defense, 2012
Pieter De Crem



January 2011
Claude-France Arnould succeeds Alexander Weis and becomes the Agency’s third Chief Executive. She joins initially from the European Council, where she was Deputy Director-General for the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD), integrated in the EEAS in 2010.
July 2011
A new EDA initiative is launched on Effective Procurement Methods in order to find innovative ways to consolidate the demand side of the European Defence Equipment Market. 
Claude-France Arnould
“Pooling & Sharing should not be a pretext to reduce efforts. It is a way to harness and maximise investment. My message is that Pooling & Sharing is not excuse to invest less; rather, that it offers a way to acquire together what is out of reach individually and get more efficiency in the employment of these capabilities. Defence effort must remain at the right level in order to ensure European defence is strong and sustainable”.
Claude-France Arnould, EDA Chief Executive (2011)
September 2011
The Theatre Exploitation Laboratory reaches initial operating capability in Afghanistan. This successful EDA project launched in 2010 aimed to develop and build a forensic laboratory to analyse Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) recovered from incidents. The European Defence Agency and the European Commission sign a European Framework Cooperation (EFC) coordination letter. Through this signature, both institutions agree to harmonise their research activities in this specific case in the field of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear protection.
EDA Ministerial Steering Board 2011
An EDA Ministerial Steering Board in 2011



March 2012
A framework for cooperation is signed between the European Defence Agency and Switzerland, enabling Swiss participation in EDA’s projects and programmes.
June 2012
The first European Air Transport Training event (EATT2012) organised by the Agency takes place in Zaragoza, Spain, bringing together tactical air transport assets from six Member States.
EU Satcom Market contract signed
The first EU Satcom Market contract was signed in 2012
July 2012
The Agency signs an administrative arrangement with the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), ensuring closer collaboration between these two majors actor in European defence cooperation.
September 2012
The first framework contract is signed with industry as part of the European Satellite Communications Procurement Cell (now EU Satcom Market). 
EATT event 2012
Spain hosted the first European Air Transport Training Event in 2012
November 2012
Defence Ministers endorse a Code of Conduct for Pooling & Sharing, thus ensuring that a cooperative approach for the entire life cycle of the product will be considered whenever a Member State is thinking of developing a new capability. Ministers of Defence of twelve Member States sign the Helicopter Exercise Programme Program Arrangement for a duration of ten years.



March 2013
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, addresses the defence community at the European Defence Agency’s annual conference, dedicated to long-term Pooling & Sharing solutions. 
“Defence cooperation is not about the management of decline, it is quite the opposite. It is the way to ensure we remain cutting-edge and fully play our role
in the future!”

Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council (2013)
Herman Van Rompuy
April 2013
The Steering Board approves an Agency initiative to promote the best use of European Structural Funds (ESF) by defence actors with six dual-use pilot projects. Member States approve the establishment of a dedicated programme for the military implementation of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking. EDA is in charge of coordinating military views and of identifying potential operational and financial risks for military users.
June 2013
The European Defence Agency and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) sign an arrangement for enhanced cooperation between the two structures, specifically covering harmonisation of military aviation safety requirements with a focus on airworthiness. 
July 2013
Croatia joins the European Defence Agency on 1 July.
September 2013
The European Defence Agency, Italy and the Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) jointly organise the first collective European Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) clearance trial on the Italian KC-767, in order to improve Europe’s global AAR capabilities.
Pete Round
“We have significant experience of collaborative projects and we have real, concrete, demonstrable success stories.
The longer Member States are involved in working together, the greater the level of trust that develops and therefore the clearer and swifter the path to success”.

Peter Round, EDA Director Capability, Armament & Technology (2013)
December 2013
EDA signs an administrative arrangement with the Serbian Ministry of Defence, enabling Serbia’s participation in the Agency’s projects and programmes. Focused on defence matters, the European Council of December 2013 provides a new impetus and high-level support for the Agency’s work. EDA is given a wide range of tasks, including responsibility for four key programmes : air-to-air refuelling, remotely piloted aircraft systems, cyber defence and governmental satellite communications. The Council also gives EDA various tasks to help strengthen Europe’s defence industry - increasing SME participation and dual-use research, and improving European certification and standardisation.
European Council 2013
The 2013 European Council put defence high on the agenda



January 2014
The European Defence Agency puts a new structure in place as of 1 January 2014 in order to better support Member States in a rapidly evolving environment. The Agency is re-organised in three operational directorates: Cooperation Planning & Support ; Capability, Armaments & Technology ; and European Synergies & Innovation. This is meant to facilitate prioritisation of tasks and improve operational output.
February 2014
The first EDA-supported dual-use project, called “Turtle”, receives European Structural Funds. Developed by a consortium of Portuguese SMEs, research institutes and universities, its aim is to produce new robotic ascend and descent energy efficient technologies to be incorporated in robotic vehicles used by civil and military stakeholders for underwater operations. 
”Because SMEs often find it difficult to access EU funds, the Agency supports industry in its attempts to access European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to develop dual-use technologies. In addition to raising awareness through dedicated workshops, the Agency has provided technical support to project holders through an EDA handbook on ESIF”.
Denis Roger, EDA Director European Synergies and Innovation (2014)
Denis Roger
May 2014
Claude-France Arnould signs a procurement arrangement with General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, Operation Commander of EUFOR Althea and Deputy NATO SACEUR, in direct support of an EU operational mission. Under this arrangement with EUFOR Althea, EDA assumes a lead role in administering the procurement procedure of air-to-ground surveillance services in Bosnia-Herzegovina. 
June 2014
The European Defence Agency and Saab Dynamics AB sign a multi-annual framework agreement for the provision of different types of ammunition for the ‘Carl-Gustaf’ recoilless anti-tank weapon, with an estimated value of up to € 50 million. This framework agreement comes under a procurement arrangement signed in 2013 between EDA and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Poland.
12 July 2014
The Agency celebrates its tenth birthday.


More information



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
  • UK