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100th Steering Board, devoted to defence innovation

EDA Member States’ defence research (R&T) Directors met today in hybrid format for a Steering Board meeting which stood out not only for its forward-looking agenda focused on defence innovation and the impact of key technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems on defence, but also because it was the 100th Steering Board meeting since the creation of the Agency in 2004.

EDA Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý looked back at 100 Steering Boards which, he said, “guided and developed the Agency over the years, creating its unique character and tasks”. He thanked all Member States representatives who participated in these 100 Steering Boards in the last 17 years: “Your inputs and guidance are crucial for EDA to fulfil its main mission: to support you, the Member States, in all matters of collaborative European defence”. Mr Šedivý also expressed particular appreciation for the successive Chairs of EDA’s Steering Boards in the different formations (national R&T, Armaments and Capability Directors).

It was also the last R&T Directors Steering Board meeting chaired by Dr Luisa Riccardi (Italy) who held this position since December 2018.  “Over the past three years, we have seen the role and importance of the Agency grow. EDA has gradually established itself as the natural point of reference for the Defence Community, the one where competences, specific skills, the ability to evaluate the main processes and objectives for Defence and Research are inherent. The Agency has been the place where responses to the needs of Defence were found in a flexible and dynamic way, always using collaborative and constructive dialogue between European Member States and stakeholders. No other forum has the same natural vocation and the same predisposition to cooperation, nor it is structured in this way for the achievement of common objectives”, Dr Riccardi stated. She wished the best of luck to her successor, Portuguese Major-General Jorge Filipe Marques Moniz Côrte-Real Andrade, who takes over as of 1 January 2022.

Defence innovation

R&T Directors discussed different topics related to defence innovation, in particular the impact new technologies such as AI and autonomous systems are already having on defence. The update of the Agency’s Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA), the OSRA Defence Technology Taxonomy and the Emerging Disruptive Technology’s (EDT) Action Plan were also on the agenda. Directors were also briefed by Mr Šedivý on the outcome of the last Steering Board meeting in Ministers’ composition which took place on 16 November. The EDA Chief Executive also touched upon the Energy Consultation Forum and other activities in terms of climate change and defence, including the recent launch of the EDA’s Incubation Forum for Circular Economy in European Defence.