Defence Ministers met today at EDA’s Ministerial Steering Board under the chairmanship of the Head of the Agency, High Representative Josep Borrell.
Ministers discussed the progress made so far as well as the way ahead in the implementation of the recommendations made in the first Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) report. Presented by EDA to Defence Ministers in November 2020, the report drew for the first time a comprehensive picture of the European defence landscape and identified more than 100 collaborative opportunities to be taken up by Member States in six main focus areas: Main Battle Tank, Soldier Systems, European Patrol Class Surface Ship, Counter-UAS – Anti-Access/Area-Denial, Defence in Space, Enhanced Military Mobility.
Ministers welcomed the first steps taken by Member States to implement the recommendations, including the interest expressed by them in taking forward concrete collaborative opportunities and cooperating in focus areas. They called on Member States to further declare their interest in participating and contributing to projects in the focus areas and, if possible, facilitate cooperation in those domains.
In this context, the Steering Board welcomed the willingness expressed by France to facilitate cooperation in the focus area ‘Defence in Space’. Many Member States confirmed their interest in discussing further and engaging in specific focus areas.
EDA was invited by Ministers to make the best possible use of its existing working bodies and, if need be, establish new ones to even better support the CARD implementation.
In 2019-2020, the first full CARD cycle took place with EDA acting as the CARD penholder. The final CARD report finds that the European defence landscape is characterised by high levels of fragmentation and low investment in cooperation, and recommends to overcome this fragmentation through coordinated and continuous efforts among Member States in three major areas which are interlinked: defence spending, defence planning and defence cooperation. To support this renewed cooperation effort, the CARD report also identifies a total of 55 collaborative opportunities throughout the whole capability spectrum, considered to be the most promising, most needed or most pressing ones, also in terms of operational value. Based on this catalogue of identified opportunities, Member States are recommended to concentrate their efforts on the above-mentioned six specific ‘focus areas’ which are also covered by the EU Capability Development Priorities agreed in 2018. In addition to that, 56 options to cooperate in R&T have been identified. They span from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cyber defence, to new sensor technologies, emerging materials and energy efficient propulsion systems as well as unmanned systems and robotics.