EDA Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý is in Austria (10-11 January) for high-level talks with Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner, Chief of Defence General Robert Brieger, Defence Policy Director Dr Arnold Kammel as well as the national Capability, Armaments and Research Directors at the Ministry of Defence, Major General Bruno Hofbauer, Major General Harald Vodosek and Colonel Rudolf Zauner. The trip to Vienna is part of Mr Šedivý’s ‘tour des capitales’ that, since last year, sees him visiting all EDA Member States.
Yesterday’s discussions with Minister Tanner mainly focused on Austria’s strong involvement in EDA’s current and future activities, the need to drive defence innovation in Europe and the prospect of reinforcing EDA's role in supporting Member States in this area , the contributions the Armed Forces can make to the EU’s Green Deal policy, the follow-up on the conclusions and recommendations of the first Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) presented in November 2020, the state of play in the PESCO implementation, the functioning of the European Defence Fund (EDF) as well as the preparations for the EU’s Strategic Compass to be approved next March.
A particular focus was put during these talks on two specific Austria-led projects in which the Agency is directly involved: - the Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Surveillance as a Service (CBRN SaaS) project launched under PESCO which, at the request of its participating Member States, is supported by the Agency since 2019 when a dedicated EDA project was established on this topic; - and the Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Reconnaissance Surveillance System (CBRN RSS) project, funded and implemented under the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), for which EDA has now been tasked to act as the project manager (see related news).
“I am particularly grateful for Austria’s very active involvement in the Agency’s work and, especially, for its leading roles in the Counter-IED area, where it hosts the European Centre for Manual Neutralisation Capabilities (ECMAN), and the CBRN reconnaissance and surveillance domain. Back in 2019, the CBRN SaaS project was the very first PESCO project for which EDA’s direct support was requested by the participating Member States, led by Austria. This served as an important signal and example which, since then, has been followed by the owners and drivers of four other PESCO projects. We hope that many more will follow in the future because the Agency is keen and ready to provide this kind of expertise-based support to its Member States. I can only thank the Austrian authorities for their strong commitment to EDA’s activities and European defence cooperation in general, and encourage them to pursue on this path”, Mr Šedivý commented.
Austria’s Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner said: “Today I met the Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency Jiří Šedivý to discuss current projects and future cooperation between the European Defence Agency and the Austrian Armed Forces. EDA supports the EU Member States in developing and improving military capabilities through cooperation in the field of R&D. With its network and expertise the EDA is thus an important partner as well as an important instrument of the EU to support smaller member states in European defence cooperation. Austria has been an active and tireless member of the EDA since it began its work in 2004. With more than 30 projects, Austria is one of the most committed member states, ranking sixth next to Poland. For our Ministry of Defence, the PESCO project "CBRN Surveillance as a Service" has become a particular showcase project. It was launched in 2018 and aims to develop the use of unmanned ground systems and drones equipped with sensors to detect CBRN warfare agents in a timely manner. As an intergovernmental agency, the EDA plays a decisive role in promoting innovation both for Austria and other Member States. Concerning the future, we want to focus even more on cooperation and collaboration with the Defence Agency, for the safety of the population in Austria as well as in Europe as a whole”.
Today 11 January, Mr Šedivý will meet with the CEO of the Austrian Defence & Security Industry (ASW), Reinhard Marak, and other industry representatives and participate in an industry event.