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EDA and DG DEFIS joint away day

Senior management and staff of EDA and the European Commission’s Directorate General Defence Industry and Space (DEFIS) met on 18 March for a day-long work retreat designed to bring the respective teams together, enhance mutual knowledge and understanding about the respective priorities, objectives and ways of working, to foster cooperation on a growing number of European defence topics relevant to both organisations, and to identify additional opportunities for improved interaction in the future.

The meeting on the initiative of DG DEFIS Director General Timo Pesonen and EDA Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý, was the first informal get-together of this kind between select staff of the Agency and DG DEFIS. The retreat took place in a positive and constructive atmosphere and was hailed by both sides as particularly timely given the tense security and defence situation in Europe following Russia’s war against Ukraine, and the various ongoing EU defence activities such as the European Commission’s recent Defence Package, the adoption of the EU Strategic Compass, and the Commission/EDA taskings stemming from the recent informal meeting of heads of state or government in Versailles.

The discussions during the day were structured in two main parts. The morning session was devoted to capability development (with a special focus on how to make best use of EDA’s activities and tools in support of the European Defence Fund managed by DG DEFIS) and defence innovation, especially on how to develop synergies between EDA’s activities and European Commission policies and initiatives in this domain. In the afternoon, several breakout groups composed by specialists from both sides discussed how to improve cooperation on topics such as EDA support to EDF (from upstream to downstream), EDF project management, defence innovation (including on how to shape the partnership with the Commission to ensure synergies between the soon to be established Hub for Defence innovation within the Agency and initiatives announced by the European Commission under the EU Defence Innovation Scheme) as well as the prospect of promoting and supporting joint defence procurement among EU Member States.

It was agreed by both EDA CE Jiří Šedivý and DEFIS DG Timo Pesonen that such informal consultations should be held again in the future.