Inception

Our History

Since more than 15 years, the European Defence Agency is at the forefront of efforts to increase European defence cooperation. The following pages look back at the history and achievements of the Agency as well as the long and often challenging road which lead to its creation in 2004.

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1947-1954

The road to European defence cooperation

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The idea of a collective European defence is as old as the story of European integration itself. From thet ashes of World War 2, it wouldn’t take long to see an incredible idea emerge : what if European countries, busy stitching their wounds after half a decade of devastating conflict, could start cooperating on defence issues and promote peace together?

Iconoclastic as it sounded at the time, the idea was nevertheless at the heart of some of the very first post-WW2 treaties that were drafted to banish any possibility of war from the continent. In March 1947, a Treaty of “Alliance and Mutual Assistance” was signed in Dunkirk by France and the United Kingdom. The two countries vowed to “cooperate closely with one another as well as with the other United Nations in preserving peace and resisting aggression”, in a move that was primarily aimed to prevent any possible future German aggression in Europe.

The following year, in March 1948, the signature of the Treaty of Brussels saw the extension of this initial effort to three additional countries : Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The signatories made their intent even clearer. Stating that this Treaty was meant to “afford assistance to each other [...] in maintaining international peace and security and in resisting any policy of aggression”, they summarised their alliance as one for “collaboration in economic, social and cultural matters, and for collective self-defence”.

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1947-1954

The European Defence Community failure

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These first small steps towards European defence cooperation were soon to be overshadowed by a much more ambitious endeavour. In the summer of 1950, Jean Monnet, then General Commissioner of the French National Planning Board, expressed his will to organise European defence on a supranational basis, an initiative inspired by French foreign minister Robert Schuman’s plan for establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) that would eventually come into effect in 1952. At the same time, the United States of America were also asking their European allies to plan for the rearmament of West Germany.

The proposal for what was known as the European Defence Community (EDC) was submitted by French Prime Minister René Pleven to the National Assembly in October 1950. It called for the creation of a European Army to be placed under supranational authority and to be funded by a common budget.

A European armament and equipment pro- gramme would be drawn up and carried out under the authority of a European Defence Minister, who in turn would operate under a European Defence Council.

The ambitious idea was supported by most Western countries. The initial Pleven plan called for integration of France, West Germany, Italy, and the Benelux countries into the EDC, but the initiative also drew support from the United Kingdom and the USA after modifications were made to the initial proposal, especially regarding the introduction of German units into the future European Army. The EDC Treaty was signed in May 1952 by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Dwight D. Eisenhower, then NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), supported the EDC project as an effective way to maximise European military potential.

Although sceptical at first, the United Kingdom eventually gave its agreement to the initiative. “Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland believe that the European Defence Community will be an essential factor in strengthening the defence of the free world through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and desire to establish the closest partnership with it”, stated an official British statement in April 1954, adding that “the United Kingdom will also join in developing a common policy in technical fields such as training, tactical doctrine, staff methods, logistics, and standardisation of equipment”.

However, a devastating blow was dealt to the European Defence Community in August 1954 when the French National Assembly rejected the Treaty, refusing even to discuss the matter.

France’s position was met with considerable consternation in Western Europe and the United States, not least because this rejection came from the very architects of the EDC plan. Over the next decades European integration in defence would take place primarily in the framework of NATO. In 1954, the North Atlantic Council formally approved the accession of the Federal Republic of Germany to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, finally settling the difficult question of Germany’s rearmament in the post-WW2 environment.

1950René Pleven submits the European Defence Community proposal to the French Parliament

1954-1991

The Cold War

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In 1954, the original 1948 Treaty of Brussels was modified in order to allow for introduction of West Germany and Italy into the original five-member club. This effectively led to the creation of the Western European Union (WEU), an organisation which would play a small yet tangible role in shaping European Defence throughout the Cold War era. Involved in debates in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s regarding the presence of nuclear weapons on European soil, the WEU also played the role of a liaison between the United Kingdom and European institutions until London decided to join the European Community in 1973. But the major influence of NATO in defence and security matters in Europe meant that the WEU would be eclipsed to the detriment of a true European dimension of defence in the first decades of the Cold War.

A number of bilateral efforts aimed at strengthening the European defence industry were also launched in that period. Signed in 1963 by France and West Germany, the Elysée Treaty marked a tangible will for cooperation in the armament domain. More than a decade after the failed attempt to launch the European Defence Community, Paris and Bonn used their political strength to kick-start an ambitious partnership between the two countries’ defence industries. Called Euromissile, the initiative aimed to develop new anti-tank guided missiles as well as air defence systems that would equip both nations’ armed forces. This political effort gave birth to the Milan and Hot combat missiles, as well as the short-range air defence Roland system. However, it eventually failed to establish an interdependent missile industry across both banks of the Rhine. Similar projects were undertaken in other domains, such as the Anglo-French SEPECAT Jaguar tactical strike aircraft that entered service in the Royal Air Force and the Armée de l’Air, but this was again a purely bilateral initiative.

However, it wouldn’t take long for some European nations to realise that future cooperative defence programmes might demand a shift from strong management by a single government to some sort of joint project control. Founded in February 1976 by the European members of NATO, the Independent European Program Group (IEPG) was envisioned as an international coordinating body whose main mission would be to foster cooperation on armaments procurement.

Using the IEPG as a forum for annual discussions, the defence ministers of the 13 member nations (all European members of NATO, except Iceland) set out goals and targets in the field of military requirements, system concepts, and collaboration. Their objectives were three-fold : to strengthen the contribution of European allies to the common defence of the NATO alliance; to improve the European technological base; and to balance US-European defence trade. The IEPG set out to conduct a number of studies, such as the European Aeronautical Cooperation Study and the European Defence Industry Study.

The fall of the Soviet Union and the return of the Warsaw Pact countries to the European fold raised new questions about the purpose and direction of defence in Europe. This was compounded by the eruption of a crisis in Europe’s direct neighbourhood. In 1991, with Yugoslavia on the verge of imploding, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jacques Poos declared that “the hour of Europe has struck.” However, instead of providing a coordinated and effective response, the Balkan crisis exposed both a lack of cooperation and a lack of relevant military capabilities in Europe.

What was effectively a European crisis was only resolved by NATO and, principally, US action.

The declaration agreed by Western European Union Ministers in Maastricht on 10 December 1991 called for further examination of the possibilities for enhanced cooperation in the field of armaments, with the aim of creating a European Armaments Agency. At their meeting in Bonn in December 1992, the Defence Ministers of the 13 IEPG countries decided upon the transfer of the functions of the IEPG to the WEU, while agreeing on a set of principles for this transfer : all 13 nations should be entitled to participate fully with the same rights and responsibilities in any European armaments cooperation forum; there should be a single European armaments cooperation forum; armaments cooperation in Europe should be managed by the National Armaments Directors of all 13 nations, who will be accountable to the Ministers of Defence of those governments. They also agreed to maintain links with the European Defence Industries Group, or EDIG, set up in Brussels in 1990 as an international association drawing its membership from all the national defence industry associations of the WEU.

1963The Elysée treaty signed by France and West Germany marked a tangible will for cooperation in the armament domain
1991The European Council in Maastricht called for the creation of a European Armaments Agency

1954-1991

The WEAG is established

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In 1954, the original 1948 Treaty of Brussels was modified in order to allow for introduction of West Germany and Italy into the original five-member club. This effectively led to the creation of the Western European Union (WEU), an organisation which would play a small yet tangible role in shaping European Defence throughout the Cold War era. Involved in debates in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s regarding the presence of nuclear weapons on European soil, the WEU also played the role of a liaison between the United Kingdom and European institutions until London decided to join the European Community in 1973. But the major influence of NATO in defence and security matters in Europe meant that the WEU would be eclipsed to the detriment of a true European dimension of defence in the first decades of the Cold War.

At the meeting of the WEU Council of Ministers in Rome in May 1993, participants agreed on a number of organisational aspects of the transfer, which were subsequently adopted formally by the Council. The Western European Armaments Group (WEAG) was born. Growing to 19 Member States by 2000 (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungar y, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom), it would live on until 2005. Among its objectives, the Group sought to strengthen the European defence technological and industrial base while making more efficient use of resources, for instance through an increased harmonisation of requirements.

As early as 1993, the WEAG created an ad hoc study group to “examine all matters related to the possible creation of a European Armaments Agency”, or EAA. This stemmed from a WEU Maastricht declaration following the 1992 Treaty that spoke of a requirement to examine further proposals for enhanced cooperation in the field of armaments, with the aim of creating a European armaments agency. A number of missions considered potentially suitable for such an agency were identified, and the work of this ad hoc study group contributed to the agreement by defence ministers in November 1996 to establish the Western European Armaments Organisation (WEAO) as a WEU subsidiary body.

The view that a new Europe needed a new approach to foreign and security policy was made clear in the series of treaties signed over the next two decades. Firstly, in 1992 the Treaty of Maastricht created the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which would deal with all questions relating to the security of the Union, “including the eventual framing of a common defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence”. The CFSP was further reinforced in 1997 when the Amsterdam Treaty incorporated the Petersberg Tasks into the policy, outlining the areas and ways in which EU Member State’s militaries could be used through the policy. This effectively opened the way for the WEU to be integrated into the European Union.

In the same year, during a meeting in Erfurt, WEAG ministers discussed European armaments cooperation could be enhanced through a dedicated agency; they worked on a “Masterplan for the European Armaments Agency” that was eventually approved in Rome in November 1998 by Ministers as a basis for further development.

1954-1991

The Letter of Intent and the emergence of OCCAR

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Meanwhile, a few European countries kept experimenting with new ways to strengthen their defence industry in the face of shrinking budgets and US competition in export markets. On 6 July 1998, six nations (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) signed a Letter of Intent (LoI), concerning “Measures to Facilitate the Restructuring of European Defence Industry”, with a Framework Agreement signed in 2000 and ratified in 2001. This inter-governmental treaty, signed outside of the European Union framework, was nevertheless another example of increased European cooperation in the armaments field.

The LoI’s declared objective was to tackle a number of hot topics that were deemed crucial for the future of Europe’s defence industry: security of supply; export procedures; security of information; research and technology; intellectual property rights; harmonisation of military requirements.

The overarching goal was to create the political and legal framework necessary to facilitate industrial restructuring in order to promote a more competitive and robust European Defence Technological and Industrial Base, or EDTIB. An Executive Committee of senior officials was established, with each LoI nation chairing it in turn on an annual basis and meeting several times a year to assess the progress being made.

At the same time, European nations were still trying to gather their efforts in order to enhance efficiency in the armament domain. In December 1995, France and Germany decided to move for ward together by putting in place new cooperation rules, known as the Baden-Baden agreements. This first Franco-German framework soon attracted interest from Italy and the United Kingdom and based on these principles, they went on to set up the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement, or OCCAR, established by an administrative arrangement on 12 November 1996. Its aim was to provide “more effective and efficient arrangements for the management of certain existing and future cooperative armament programmes”. The Defence Ministers of the founding nations then signed a treaty, the “OCCAR Convention”, that came into force in January 2001. The organisation would later be joined by Belgium and Spain. For the following years, the main mission of OCCAR would be to manage the A400M program, which would take up the large majority of the organisation’s resources. Other programs such as the FSAF family of surface-to-air missiles, the FREMM frigate or the Tiger helicopter would also end up being managed by the multinational organisation.

1954-1991

The creation of CSDP

Javier SolanaHigh Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy from 18 Oct 1999 to 1 Dec 2009

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The political push for Europe to fulfil its role on the global stage, including defence and security issues, gained extra momentum with the joint UK-French declaration of Saint-Malo in December 1998, only a few weeks after the first informal meeting of EU Ministers of Defence in Pörtschach, Austria.

In Saint-Malo, the French President and UK Prime Minister jointly called for a European foreign policy that would allow Europe to play its full role on the international stage. To achieve this, they argued that the EU must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed by credible military forces, to respond to international crises. This view was endorsed by the other Member States at the European Council in Cologne, 1999, which declared that the EU needed to be given the means and capabilities to assume its responsibilities for a common European policy on security and defence.

This initiative was to be pushed by Javier Solana, who became the first Secretary General of the Council and High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union in 1999. While in the same year, Member States agreed to a set of military capability targets to be completed by 2003, known as the Helsinki Headline Goal. The following year brought further progress in the establishment of an effective EU foreign and security policy, with the agreement to permanently establish the Political and Security Committee (PSC), EU Military Committee (EUMC), and EU Military Staff (EUMS).

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2001-2004

The birth of an Agency

2001-2004

The birth of an Agency

Established by the European Council in December 2001 following the Laeken Declaration, the European Convention (also known as the Convention on the Future of Europe) was a body intended to include the main EU “stakeholders” in a major brainstorming exercise about the future direction of the European Union. Its final purpose was to produce a draft constitution for the EU to finalise and adopt. Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was appointed Chairman of the Convention, with former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato and former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene acting as Vice-Chairmen. Its members were drawn from the national parliaments of Member States and candidate countries, the European Parliament, the European Commission, and representatives of Heads of State and Government. It was this period that saw a renewed impetus for the creation of a European Defence Agency.

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2001-2004

A push from industry

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Running parallel to that political roadmap, some major aerospace and defence companies in Europe started lobbying for a strong armaments agency that would be able to overcome the shortfalls of all previous initiatives in the domain. “One of the main eye-openers was the pullout of some partner nations from the A400M program”, Michel Troubetzkoy, then EADS (now Airbus Group) senior-vice president in charge of European affairs for the aerospace and defense group, recalls. “We said to ourselves: never again ! From our perspective, OCCAR didn’t have the right political dimension to prevent this kind of issue, and this was the starting point of our call for a stronger European body in the field of armaments.”

There were other issues at stake for the defence industry, as the former EADS representative outlines. “European defence budgets were declining, especially in the research & technology area. At the same time, the US was boosting its R&T effort through its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa). In fact, a European Darpa was what we called for”, Troubetzkoy remembers. “Considering the fact that a strong political momentum for more European cooperation had been in the air since St-Malo, we really thought the time was right for a new Agency.”

Rapidly joined by French defence electronics company Thales, EADS started its lobbying effort towards EU representatives and especially the nascent Convention to sell the idea of what was then referred to by the industry as a ‘European Security and Defence Research Agency’. “In 2002, we organised a dinner that gathered more than 200 representatives from national parliaments and from the Convention”, Troubetzkoy points out. “I personally asked Valéry Giscard d’Estaing to consider, after the failure of the EDC in 1954, a new political impetus for defence cooperation in Europe through the creation of a dedicated Agency. He told me he would take up the challenge.”

2001-2004

Defence and the Convention

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This bold move from industry representatives partly contributed to the creation of a dedicated “Working Group on Defence” within the Convention in September 2002. Chaired by Michel Barnier, then European Commissioner in charge of Institutional Affairs for the European Commission in addition to his Regional Affairs portfolio, its official mandate included investigating “the possibility of setting up an arms agency whose tasks (research, development, acquisitions) and operating methods would have to be studied in detail”, while acknowledging that “there [was] in fact currently no cooperation on armaments at Union level”. The document went on to state that “if real progress is to be possible in terms of military capabilities, efforts must be made not only at defence budget level, but also at the level of procurement so as to achieve economies of scale, and at the level of arms research and development”.

“The time was right”, Christine Roger, former French Ambassador to the PSC who at the time was heading Michel Barnier’s private office in the European Commission and was directly involved in the proceedings of the Convention Working Group on Defence, recalls. “Member States all seemed willing to move forward, the industry wanted it as well - there was a wide range of good reasons to make this new Agency a reality. It was a simple idea and a good one”, she sums up. As part of its process, the Defence Working Group went on to interview a number of high- level representatives from the Member States’ ministries of Defence, governments and industries. Again, EADS used this forum to make its pitch for a strong Agency, with one of its Vice-President in charge of strategic coordination for the aerospace and defence company, presenting his ideas - some of which would make their way to the report of the working group finalised in December 2002.

“The WEAG geometry was deemed too complex at the time, and one of the problems we identified was that it lacked the support of real decision making structures”, Christine Roger, who is currently Director for Home Affairs at the Council of the European Union, points out. “The idea of setting up a new Agency was a consensus builder in the Convention working Group on Defence. Greece was really supportive at the time, which is in line with the decisive initiative shown thereafter by the European Council in Thessaloniki in June 2003, during the Greek Presidency”.

In its final report, the Convention working group laid out some of the foundations of what would become the European Defence Agency we know today - although the final name wasn’t there yet. “The setting up on an intergovernmental basis of a European Armaments and Strategic Research Agency was supported by many in the Group”, the official document stated. “The Agency’s initial tasks would be to ensure the fulfillment of operational requirements by promoting a policy of harmonised procurement by the Member States, and to support research into defence technology, including military space systems.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing Former French President, acted as chairman of the Convention

2001-2004

Defence and the Convention

Michel Barnier

then European Commissioner in charge of Institutional Affairs and Regional Affairs, chaired the “Working Group on Defence” set up within the Convention in September 2002. The group’s official mandate included investigating “the possibility of setting up an arms agency whose tasks (research, development, acquisitions) and operating methods would have to be studied in detail”.

2001-2004

Defence and the Convention

The Agency would incorporate, with a European label, closer forms of cooperation which already exist in the armaments field between certain Member States (OCCAR, LoI). The Agency should also be tasked with strengthening the industrial and technological base of the defence sector. It should also incorporate the appropriate elements of the cooperation that most Member States undertake within the WEAG.”

The working group laid out a few ideas regarding the way this future Agency could interact with its stakeholders. “All Member States which so wished could participate in the Agency, the composition of which would not be linked to other, limited forms of defence cooperation”, the final report explained.“Certain Member States could constitute specific groups based on a commitment to carry out specific projects”, which could also “be opened up on an ad hoc basis to countries which are not members of the European Union”.

2001-2004

Thessaloniki and the birth of EDA

2003 The 2003 Thessaloniki European Council pushed for the creation of the European Defence Agency

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The Convention officially finished its work in July 2003 with the publication of a Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. Running parallel to the Convention effort, Member States representatives were also busy preparing the European Council that would take place in Thessaloniki in June 2003. It was foreseen that the event would also see a push towards a new intergovernmental agency in the field of defence - although, as Christine Roger points out, the Convention and the Council efforts on the matter were largely disconnected. Meanwhile, further momentum was added by the defence industry with the publication in April 2003 in British, French, German, and Spanish daily newspapers of an open letter co-written by BAE Systems, EADS and Thales’ CEOs. Titled “ Time to Act”, it urged greater consolidation of the European defence industry through the creation of a new European armament and strategic research defence agency, seen as the best platform to launch major future defence and security programs.

In its final conclusions published in June 2003, the Thessaloniki Council made it clear that a new European Defence Agency was on the agenda and would soon become a reality. “ The European Council [...] tasks the appropriate bodies of the Council to undertake the necessary actions towards creating, in the course of 2004, an intergovernmental agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments”, the final declaration stated. The overall objective of the new body was briefly explained : “This agency, which will be subject to the Council’s authority and open to participation by all Member States, will aim at developing defence capabilities in the field of crisis management, promoting and enhancing European armaments cooperation, strengthening the European defence industrial and technological base and creating a competitive European defence equipment market, as well as promoting, in liaison with the Community’s research activities where appropriate, research aimed at leadership in strategic technologies for future defence and security capabilities, thereby strengthening Europe’s industrial potential in this domain”.

2001-2004

The Agency Establishment Team

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The next step would be to actually set this new agency in motion. Nick Witney, who would become the first EDA Chief Executive in 2004, played a central role in that process. He shares his recollections of the period : “During the second half of 2003, under the Italian presidency of the EU, a working group was convened in Brussels to make a reality of this and I was the British representative. As the deputy head of the UK MoD’s strategic affairs directorate, I travelled to Brussels regularly in the second half of 2003 to meet with my counterparts.”

The consensus around the Agency was clearly still there, notably between Paris and London. “This may sound surprising now, considering that relations between the two countries really became tense after the strong French opposition to the Iraq campaign in 2003. However, there was a clear agreement between London and Paris that an Agency would be a good thing and that we would make it happen, even if there was no clear understanding at the time of what the exact role of the Agency should be, or its position on the institutional grid”, Nick Witney recalls. “The only thing we had was a half sentence from the Thessaloniki Council, which served as a blank screen onto which different people projected different aspirations. The only way out was to establish a special project team, and this was decided in November 2003.”

The Agency Establishment Team (AET), was to finalise its report by April 2004 in order to submit it for approval by the Council during the summer. “The question then arose - who would head the team? London and Paris each put forward their candidate, initiating a standoff that lasted two and a half months from November to late January - a period during which I sat on a packed suitcase in London. But meanwhile, time was running out because the team was supposed to deliver its report at the end of April, and almost half the time was consumed doing nothing”, Witney points out. “I am not sure how the choice was finally made in my favour but at the end of January the call came, and I moved immediately to Brussels. There I found waiting for me in the Kortenberg building a small office with a computer, a malfunctioning telephone, and a pile of CVs.”

“From the CVs I quickly selected a team of about a dozen people”, Witney recalls. Accommodation was another issue and the AET finally found some open-plan space on the top floor of the Kortenberg building, home of the EU CSDP structures. Working from there, the team had a constant relation with an ad hoc representative group of all EU Member States, which they met with every two weeks. “It was a useful interaction”, Witney explains, “because it allowed us to reassure them but also to get their fingerprints on what we were doing to make sure they couldn’t repudiate it at the end”. The previous autumn’s efforts to progress the Agency had focused on trying to draft its legal basis. The team’s approach was to concentrate instead on substance, working to develop a consensus on what exactly the Agency would do, and how it would do it. While the British argued the Agency should mainly focus on capability development, the French pushed for a predominant armaments role. “Our job in a way was to demonstrate that the Agency was able to do both, and moreover by doing both it could succeed better in each”, Nick Witney explains.

Reflecting this debate, the European Defence Agency name was finally adopted because “it was short, accurate, and unconstraining”, Witney says, and also because anything more specific could have been seen as trying to push the Agency one way or another. By the end of April the team was able to submit its blue-print for the new institution, clearing the way for member state diplomats, skillfully guided by the Irish presidency, to finalise the legal documentation.

Nick Witney First Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency

2001-2004

Towards the Joint Action

The European Council Justus Lipsius building, Brussels

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A number of draft paragraphs were submitted to Member States and went back to the AET between May and June. By the middle of June the text was sent to the Relex group of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), in charge of drafting the Joint Action that would officially create the European Defence Agency. On 12 July 2004, the European Council formally adopted this Joint Action, turning the Thessaloniki and the Convention promises into reality. The decisive final discussion was at a COREPER meeting which took place in Luxembourg in late June. “We drove back to Brussels to my flat where the team was waiting for us - champagne was on ice and we had a wonderful party !”, Witney says. “Looking back, I think this and my subsequent three years as the Agency’s first Chief Executive was the most rewarding period of my entire professional life”, he adds. “Personally rewarding, too - a number of my team colleagues have become friends for life.”

A Chief Executive had to be chosen for the Agency, as there was no automatic right for Witney to get the position. Javier Solana, then High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and acting Head of EDA, had to write to Member States to propose Nick Witney as a Chief Executive, a nomination that was quickly approved.

The second half of 2004 was dedicated to putting everything in place. Hilmar Linnenkamp joined Witney as Deputy Chief Executive, and in October the first four functional directors were nominated : Capabilities director Pierre Hougardy, Research & Technology Director Bertrand de Cordoue, Armaments Director Carlo Magrassi, and Industry and Market Director Ulf Hammarstrom.

“We knew that by the autumn of 2004 we would be thirty-something strong and would need space for that”, Nick Witney recalls. “But all the Council administration was able to offer at the time were two or three offices in the Justus Lipsius building, two offices on the other side of rue Froissart and some other spaces in different locations around Brussels - but I felt we had to stay together”. The situation was eventually settled when the Council managed to find accommodation for the nascent Agency. “I later went down to see them and they told me they had just found 30 offices available in the Justus Lipsius”, Witney says. A few months later, in 2005, the Agency would permanently settle in its current Rue des Drapiers headquarters, very close to downtown Brussels.

Accommodation issues aside, the first months were dedicated to putting the whole legal framework and institutional struc ture of the Agency in place. In autumn 2004, EDA’s Steering Board, made up of Defence Ministers from each Member State, met for the first time. They approved the budget for 2005, the first annual Work Programme, and the official structure of the Agency.

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2004-2018

15 years working together

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

April

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

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

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

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

An administrative arrangement is signed with Norway, enabling the country to take part in EDA projects and programmes.

April

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

A Code of Conduct for promoting competition in defence procurement is launched and subscribed to by all EDA Member States.

October

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.

Hilmar Linnenkamp, Thomas Enders, Gunther Verheugen, Javier Solana and Nick Witney
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

Bulgaria and Romania join the European Defence Agency.

February

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.

May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Javier Solana

November

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.

2009 Paris Air Show
Launch of the MIDCAS project during the 2009 Paris Air Show

February

The annual conference focuses on civil-military cooperation under the heading “Bridging Efforts - Connecting Civilian Security and Military Capability Development”.

April

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

July

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

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.

Pieter De Crem

January

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

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

September

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.

An EDA Ministerial Steering Board in 2011
An EDA Ministerial Steering Board in 2011

March

A framework for cooperation is signed between the European Defence Agency and Switzerland, enabling Swiss participation in EDA’s projects and programmes.

June

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.

The first EU Satcom Market contract was signed in 2012
The first EU Satcom Market contract was signed in 2012

July

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

The first framework contract is signed with industry as part of the European Satellite Communications Procurement Cell (now EU Satcom Market).

Spain hosted the first European Air Transport Training Event in 2012
Spain hosted the first European Air Transport Training Event in 2012

November

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

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.

Herman Van Rompuy

April

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

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

Croatia joins the European Defence Agency on 1 July.

September

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.

December

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.

The 2013 European Council put defence high on the agenda
The 2013 European Council put defence high on the agenda

January

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

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.

May

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

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

July

The Agency celebrates its tenth birthday.

October

EDA organises a joint three-day European Armaments Cooperation Course with the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) to support Member States enhance their interoperability in this crucial domain.

January – February

Jorge Domecq, a senior Spanish diplomat, is appointed as new Chief Executive, taking office on 2 February 2015. Before joining EDA, Jorge Domecq, was Ambassador Permanent Representative of Spain to the OSCE and prior to that, had served as Ambassador of Spain to the Republic of the Philippines. He also held numerous positions with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as Director of the Private Office of the NATO Secretary General and as Diplomatic Adviser to the Spanish Minister of Defence.

March

EDA and the Athena mechanism (established to administer the financing of the common costs of European Union operations having military or defence implications) sign an arrangement establishing the framework for future cooperation.

April

The new Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Alain Le Roy, visits EDA to discuss the Agency’s priorities.

June

EDA and the SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM) sign a Memorandum of Understanding establishing an efficient cooperation between the two organisations with regard to SESAR (Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research) deployment.

Jorge Domecq and Massimo Garbini
Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, Massimo Garbini, Managing Director of the SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM)

July

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the Commission and Head of EDA, Federica Mogherini, visits the Agency for the first time. She meets with the Agency’s Management Board before addressing the staff. “I want defence cooperation to be the rule, not the exception. EDA is providing the necessary impetus and means to make this a reality. Your collective role is vital. We are here for results and concrete achievements – and I know you deliver”, she said.

Jorge Domecq and Federica Mogherini

September

A Strategic Decision-Making Course and a Cyber Crisis Management Exercise are held in Vienna - a joint initiative of EDA, the European Cyber Security Initiative (Estonia), the Austrian Ministry of Defence and the Austrian Ministry of Interior.

October

The new Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1835 of 12 October 2015 defining the statute, seat and operational rules of EDA is adopted by Member States. It revises a Council decision of 12 July 2011 which had replaced the Joint Action of the Council of Ministers of 12 July 2004 by which the Agency was created.

November

With the new Council decision in place (see previous news), cooperative defence projects and programmes can benefit from VAT exemption whenever the Agency adds value to the initiative.

December

EDA and OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement) strengthen their cooperation with the signing of a revised guidance document defining the terms of cooperation between the EDA and the Executive Administration of OCCAR as well as between the EDA and OCCAR Member States. The new document develops concepts of cooperation in a more detailed and pragmatic manner with a view to introducing greater synergies in terms of project or programme management.

Jorge Domecq and Tim Rowntree
Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, Tim Rowntree, Director of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR)

March

EDA hosts a first Hybrid Threats Table Top Exercise (TTX) gathering around 80 experts from Member States, the European Commission, the European External Action Service (Crisis Management and Planning Directorate, EU Military Committee, EU Military Staff), CERT, ENISA and Europol, as well as observers from NATO. The objective was to identify and analyse implications of hybrid threats for European military capability development. It was followed in June by a second TTX which looked into the different capability areas where shortfalls and vulnerabilities have been indicated.

Jorge Domecq and Massimo Garbini

April

EDA, in cooperation with the then Dutch EU Presidency, holds a major R&T Conference in Amsterdam, focused on future technologies and innovation models likely to affect European defence capabilities. Discussions centred on emerging and critical technologies such as cyber, robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

June

The EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) is presented by HR/VP and Head of EDA, Federica Mogherini. Only the second of its kind since the 2003 European Security Strategy, the EUGS sets a new level of ambition in relation to defence and military capabilities, in particular by insisting on the need for Europe to develop “an appropriate level of strategic autonomy” in order to guarantee its security and that of its citizens. It also underlines that “Member States will need to move towards defence cooperation as the norm” and urges them to make “full use” of EDA’s potential. The EUGS laid the groundwork for subsequent EU defence initiatives such as CARD, PESCO and the European Defence Fund.

July

The EU-NATO Joint Declaration is signed in the margins of the July NATO Summit in Warsaw, meant to reinvigorate end enhance cooperation between the two organisations. Six months later, on 6 December 2016, a set of 42 pragmatic and ambitious follow-up measures are adopted in parallel by the Council of the European Union and the North Atlantic Council at the Foreign Ministers level in Brussels.

October

Grant agreements worth a total of €1.4 million are signed at EDA for the implementation of three selected research activities to be carried out under the EU’s first Pilot Project in the field of defence research. The signing, attended by European Commission Deputy Director General Pierre Delsaux, marks an important step in EU defence integration since it’s the first time that the EU is testing the conditions for defence research in an EU framework, funded by the EU budget. The Pilot Project paves the way for the launch, in 2017, of the European Commission’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR).

November

The Executive Directors of four key European agencies dealing with security and defence (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security - ENISA, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre - EC3, the EU institutions’ permanent Computer Emergency Response Team CERT-EU and the European Defence Agency) meet at the EDA premises to identify and discuss cooperative opportunities in cyber security and defence.

December

EDA and SESAR JU (Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research Joint Undertaking) sign a Memorandum of Cooperation that promotes collaboration on the next phase of research and innovation in air traffic management (SESAR 2020).

March

Rose Gottemoeller, NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, visits EDA to discuss the implementation of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration in which the Agency plays a central role. It is the first time such a high-level NATO representative visits the European Defence Agency.

April

The Swiss government announces that the country will participate in its first EDA project under the ‘Framework for Cooperation’ agreed with the Swiss ministry of Defence in 2012. The research project in question deals with the Protection of Autonomous Systems against Enemy Interference (PASEI).

Following a proposal by the Head of Agency, EDA Member States decide unanimously to extend the initial 3-year mandate of Jorge Domecq as the Agency’s Chief Executive for an additional 2 years (up to 1 February 2020). The extension comes at a particularly critical time when EDA is called to play an important role in the implementation of the EU Global Strategy and subsequent EU defence initiatives, as well as of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration.

May

The Council of the European Union approves the modalities to establish the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) starting with a ‘trial run’ involving all Member States as of autumn 2017. In its role as CARD Secretariat, EDA will during this trial run compile all available information on participating Member States’ defence expenditure and capability development plans, followed by bilateral dialogues between participating Member States and EDA and the EU Military Staff in order to complete, discuss and clarify the data. A final CARD Trial Run Report is to be presented to Member States in autumn 2018.

The project arrangement for EDA’s first ever cyber defence ‘Pooling & Sharing’ project is signed by 11 contributing Member States. The ‘Cyber Ranges Federation Project’ intends to increase the availability of existing and emerging cyber range facilities and to improve cyber defence training, exercises and testing at European level.

May

At a ministerial EDA Steering Board meeting chaired by Federica Mogherini, Member States’ Defence Ministers endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the Agency’s Long Term Review (LTR). The LTR had been launched in summer 2017 with a view to reinforcing the Agency to keep it fit for purpose in the light of upcoming, more ambitious tasks and challenges deriving from the EU’s new Global Strategy. The agreed LTR conclusions strengthen EDA as the main intergovernmental prioritisation instrument at EU level in support of capability development. They also identify and enhance EDA as the preferred cooperation forum and management support structure at EU level to engage in technology and capability development activities, ranging from R&T to critical enablers, exercise and training as well as support to operations, including the industrial dimension. Finally, the Agency is also reinforced as an interface between Member States and EU institutions and as a central operator for EU-funded defence-related activities.

May

The European Commission and EDA sign a Delegation Agreement by which the Commission entrusts the Agency with the management of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) to be launched in early June. The aim of the Preparatory Action, the first substantial EU funded action for defence research, is to demonstrate the added-value of EU-funded research in the defence sector and lay the grounds for a fully-fledged EU defence R&D programme in the Multi-annual Financial Framework commencing in 2021.

June

EDA published the first calls for proposals for the EU’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR), covering three domains: a technological demonstrator for enhanced situational awareness in a naval environment; research in technology and products in the context of Force Protection and Soldier Systems; strategic technology foresight. The budget for the PADR related actions in 2017 is €25 million.

The Head of the Agency, Federica Mogherini, and the Minister of Defence of Spain, Dolores de Cospedal, open the European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC) in Zaragoza. The opening of ETAC marks an important step forward in European defence cooperation as well as joint collaboration with the establishment of a permanent operational base for advanced tactical airlift training. The ETAC opening represents the largest transfer of a project, created and developed by EDA, to one of its Member States on a permanent basis.

September

EU Defence Ministers participate in ‘EU CYBRID 2017’, the first ever strategic table-top cyber defence exercise jointly organised by the Estonian EU Presidency and EDA.

November

EDA’s Steering Board appoints Olli Ruutu as the Agency’s new Deputy Chief Executive as of March 2018. He previously served as the Deputy National Armaments Director at the Finnish Ministry of Defence and Director of the Materiel Unit at the Resource Policy Department.

December

EU and NATO Councils take EU-NATO cooperation to a new level by endorsing a new set of common proposals on the implementation of the July 2016 Joint Declaration. The initial 42 cooperation proposals endorsed in December 2016 are complemented by 32 new proposals, covering new topics such as counter-terrorism, women, peace and security and military mobility. EDA is involved in the implementation of 30 of the 74 proposals.

The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the area of security and defence policy is established by a Council decision, with 25 EU Member States participating. The European External Action Service (EEAS), including the EU Military Staff (EUMS), and EDA jointly act as the PESCO Secretariat. In this role, EDA supports the annual assessment of PESCO Member States’ contributions with regard to capabilities. The Agency also facilitates capability development projects under PESCO, in particular by coordinating the assessment of projects proposals in the area of capability development. EDA also support Member States in ensuring that there is no unnecessary duplication with existing initiatives also in other institutional contexts

February

EDA and the European Investment Bank (EIB) sign a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation between the two institutions. As a first step, EDA and EIB envisage to work together on the setting up of a Cooperative Financial Mechanism (CFM) to support cooperative projects where unsynchronised defence budgets hinder or impede the launch or implementation of such projects.

February

EDA launches the 'European Funding Gateway' for defence, an online platform designed to help the defence sector (industry, research and technology organisations, academia, Ministries of Defence, Armed Forces) to access EU funding.

February

The Agency launches the EDA Defence Innovation Prize rewarding companies and research entities who propose innovative and ground-breaking technologies, products, processes or services applicable in the defence domain.

March

EDA publishes the 2018 calls for proposals for the EU’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR), focusing on three topics: European high-performance, trustable (re)configurable system-on-a-chip or system-in-package components for defence applications; European high power laser effector; Strategic technology foresight, tackling the issue of the critical defence technological dependencies for the EU.

March

The Head of the Agency, Federica Mogherini, announces an Action Plan on Military Mobility, based on EDA’s roadmap, identifying a series of operational measures to tackle physical, procedural or regulatory barriers which hamper military mobility. The Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and EDA agree to work in close coordination with the Member States for the effective implementation of these actions.

May

EDA, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Computer Emergency Response Team for the EU Institutions, Agencies and Bodies (CERT-EU) sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a cooperation framework between their organisations. The MoU aims at leveraging synergies between the four organisations and promoting cooperation on cyber security and cyber defence. More specifically, it focuses on five areas: exchange of information; education & training; cyber exercises; technical cooperation; and strategic and administrative matters.

June

EDA’s Steering Board in Capability Directors formation endorses the 2018 Capability Development Plan (CDP) and the associated 11 EU Capability Development Priorities which serves as a key reference for the implementation of major European defence initiatives launched following the 2016 EU Global Strategy, such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), and the European Defence Fund (EDF).

Six EDA Member States (Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany and Latvia) sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the pooling and sharing of their respective cyber ranges capabilities. It is a first important outcome of EDA’s Cyber Ranges Federation Project launched in May 2017 in which a total of 11 EDA Member States participate.

September

The first Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) conference in Europe is organised by EDA in Brussels, gathering some 200 experts, stakeholders, industry representatives and political/military decision-makers from the European, transatlantic and international AAR community.

EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq attends the 20th Birthday ceremony of the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement (OCCAR) in Bonn. He welcomes the close and productive working relationship established between the Agency and OCCAR based on the Administrative Arrangement signed in July 2012, and calls for an even stronger cooperation in the future to bring forward potential new collaborative defence equipment programmes.

November

EDA’s CARD Trial Run Report is discussed and welcomed at the Agency’s Ministerial Steering Board. Defence Ministers agree to establish CARD as a standing activity with the first full cycle to be launched in autumn 2019. The aim of CARD is to serve as a pathfinder and to provide the overview that will allow Member States to better coordinate their defence planning and spending and engage in collaborative projects, improving consistency in Member States defence spending and overall coherence of the European capability landscape.

November

The Cyber education, training, exercise and evaluation (ETEE) platform was launched at the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) with the support of EDA, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission. The main task of the platform is the coordination of cyber security and defence training and education for EU Member States.

December

EDA’s Steering Board in Research and Technology Director’s composition validated the review outcome of the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA), including the 139 developed Technology Building Blocks (TBBs). The updated OSRA version provides a necessary link between R&T efforts and the military tasks and long-term capability needs of the Capability Development Plan (CDP). Combining a top-down approach (from capability needs to technologies) and a bottom-up approach (from new emerging technologies to capabilities), OSRA aims at streamlining Europe’s defence research priorities and informing Member States’ decision-making process on defence research.

January

Emilio Fajardo joined EDA as the new Industry, Synergies & Enablers (ISE) Director as of 1 January 2019. He previously held the position of Director for Naval Systems and Head of the Hydrodynamics Research Centre at the National Institute for Aerospace Technologies (INTA) in Madrid.

February

A new cooperation arrangement was signed by EDA and ATHENA, the mechanism which handles the financing of common costs relating to EU military operations under the EU's common security and defence policy (CSDP). The new arrangement, which replaces the previous one signed in 2015, includes the option for any CSDP operation or mission commander to call upon EDA to provide technical and administrative support for their most complex procurement procedures.

March

EDA launched ‘IdentiFunding’, an online tool which allows defence-interested stakeholders (industry - including SMEs, Ministries of Defence, research and technology entities, universities, etc.) to quickly and easily identify existing EU funding schemes available for defence-related projects. The new application, which is accessible via EDA’s European Funding Gateway for Defence and the SME corner, performs an instant scan of all existing defence-related EU funding opportunities based on a project’s topic, scope, objectives as well as the participants involved.

March

More than 500 high-level representatives from Ministries of Defence, defence research institutes, industry, academia and the European institutions attended the “Capability-Driven Defence Research and Innovation” conference in Bucharest which was co-organised by EDA and the Romanian EU Presidency . The event showcased new prioritisation instruments for defence research, technology and innovation, highlighted potential synergies to be achieved on research priorities at national and European level and provided an update on the latest developments on the European Defence Fund.

March/April

On 22 March, the HR/VP provided to the Council the first annual report on the status of PESCO implementation. The report is based on the assessment made by the PESCO Secretariat (in which EDA plays a central role, together with the European External Action Service including the EU Military Staff) of participating Member States’ National Implementation Plans (NIPs). On 8 April, the PESCO Secretariat provided to the Council the report on the Initial Lessons Identified on PESCO projects, which was developed in close consultation with the participating Member States. This report provided short term recommendations to be taken in consideration in view of future PESCO calls as well as and long-term recommendations.

May

Jean-François Ripoche joined EDA as the new Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) Director. He previously held the position of Research and Technology Director at the Strategy Directorate of DGA (Direction générale de l'armement), the French Ministry of Defence Procurement Agency.

May

In the margins of EDA Steering Board, 23 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden) and EDA signed a new programme that will facilitate the granting of cross-border surface and air movement permissions. The programme is developed in the framework of EDA’s work on military mobility. It implements an important part of the ‘Action Plan on Military Mobility’ presented by the HR/VP and the Commission in March 2018.

June

The second phase of the Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS II) was successfully closed at a conference in Bucharest attended by Gabriel-Beniamin Leș, the Romanian Defence Minister, Dominique Ristori, the European Commission Director-General for Energy and Jorge Domecq, EDA’s Chief Executive. At the same event, the launch of the phase III of the Consultation Forum was announced. It focuses on …

June

On 25 June, EDA celebrated its 15th Anniversary with a ceremony in its premises attended by the Head of the Agency, Federica Mogherini, high representatives (Ministers, Deputy Ministers, State Secretaries, Chiefs of Defence, Ambassadors) from its 27 Member States and the four associated countries, the Chairman of the EU Military Committee, Deputy Secretary-Generals of the EEAS, the Director General of the EU Military Staff, several European Commissioners and Commission Director-Generals, Executive Directors and senior officials of all EU institutions and agencies, NATO senior representatives as well representatives from the European defence industry and the media. In her commemoration speech, Federica Mogherini, the Head of the Agency, recalled the tremendous progress made in European defence cooperation over recent years - especially since the publication of the EU Global Strategy in 2016 - and stressed the role played by EDA in this endeavour.

June

EDA’s Steering Board in Capability Directors composition endorsed the first edition of the Strategic Context Cases (SCC) which will guide the practical implementation of the 2018 EU Capability Development Priorities. The SCC should ensure the priorities are implemented in a way that improves the coherence of the European capability landscape and leads to cooperative projects which contribute to close identified capability shortfalls.

August

EDA’s Steering Board cleared the way for the new Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC) to be established in Sintra, Portugal. The opening of this new advanced tactical helicopter training facility is foreseen by the end of 2022. The MHTC will consist of office space for the technical, administrative and training delivery staff, simulator facilities and a dedicated accommodation block. It will also develop a more coordinated approach to European helicopter training and will try to harmonise national approaches and drive synergies with NATO doctrine.

September

EDA and the European Air Transport Command (EATC) established a new cooperation framework, through an exchange of letters, that further strengthens the ties between the two. The exchange of letters, which took place at the EDA premises in the presence of EATC Commander Major General Laurent Marboeuf and EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq, builds on the already existing cooperation. The letters exchanged identify new areas for enhanced cooperation between the EDA and EATC such as air mobility, fixed-wing training cooperation, military aviation, military mobility and other cross-cutting activities.

September

The third phase of the Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS III) was launched at a meeting attended, inter alia, by Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, and Jorge Domecq, EDA’s Chief Executive. Phase III will last for four years and address the implementation of the EU legal framework on energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy security in the defence and security sector as well as prepare the defence sector for new technologies such as digitalisation, artificial intelligence, e-mobility and other innovative energy systems.