Twenty Years Young


It’s an anniversary year – and not just for the European Defence Agency. NATO celebrates its 75th anniversary, and world leaders and veterans have marked D-Day's 80th anniversary in France, remembering the largest multinational amphibious landing and operational military airdrop in history.

As the European Defence Agency revisits its past, the future seems particularly unpredictable. Russia’s armed forces are relentlessly seeking the upper hand in Ukraine and Kyiv has little time to lose as it waits more weapons deliveries from its allies.

While NATO will remain the cornerstone of Europe’s collective defence, EDA’s work on 155mm ammunition procurement in support of Ukraine, as well as its role in marshalling collaborative defence projects, illustrate how EDA is helping to make the European Union a security provider.

The European Defence Agency has proved its worth since its birth on 12 July 2004 — and continues to do so. EDA’s Head of Agency, High Representative Josep Borrell, and EDA’s Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý, explain why the European Union needs to continue to develop its common defence policy.  EDA’s initiatives in autonomous systems, outlined in this edition, reveal much about warfare of the future. 

Finland’s Minister of Defence Antti Häkkänen sets out his key tasks for EU defence, as well as what it means to be part of NATO. We also hear from a Swedish think-tanker at the Atlantic Council, Anna Wieslander, on what Sweden’s new membership of the alliance means for Europe.

EDA was born in a time of optimism about the European project. Today, with the return of a major war to Europe, those advocating a disengagement from EU integration are more vocal than ever. They benefit from citizens’ desperation at a seemingly never-ending stream of crises, notably the eurozone crisis, Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. 

So the once seemingly straightforward task of maintaining European and American support for Ukraine is becoming harder. In this edition of European Defence Matters, we talk to NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Marie-Doha Besancenot, on the work that goes on to remind citizens of how we must both honour the successes of the past and continue to work to secure our future security.

The accession of 10 new states to the European Union on 1 May 2004 is a symbol of the peaceful unity of the continent. If we want to protect that peace, together we need to enhance our ability to anticipate threats, invest more in better capabilities and technologies and by doing so, protect EU citizens. EDA will be an integral part of that.

Happy anniversary!

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