CARD was launched in 2017 as part of the of the implementation EU Global Strategy and also serves as an important tool in taking forward the EU Strategic Compass.

One of the recurrent stumbling blocks in fostering European defence cooperation and collaborative capability development has been that Ministries of Defence have traditionally done defence planning and procurement in isolation without significant coordination amongst themselves.

With a view to seeking ways to address this, MS decided to set up a Coordinated Annual Review on Defence, conducted by EDA in close coordination with the European Union Military Staff (EUMS).

The CARD Process

The main CARD deliverables are two documents:

  • The CARD Aggregated Analysis – (aims at MS and EU Defence experts) - is a staff analysis and the intermediate product of the CARD cycle at aggregated level (no MS is exposed). It provides an overview on main trends, analyses collaborative opportunities on defence capability development and includes Member States’ views expressed during the CARD bilateral dialogues with EDA and the EUMS. It also includes the analysis of the operational landscape and CSDP shortfalls. It aims at informing decision-making processes at both national and EU level.
  • The CARD Report – (aims at POL decision-makers) - it provides key political messages derived from the CARD Aggregated Analysis, actionable recommendations, and options to generate collaborative projects, to cope with the challenges highlighted by the CARD process.

Second CARD cycle (2021-2022)

During the second CARD cycle, Europe’s security situation underwent a momentous shift resulting from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The return of war in Europe reaffirms the necessity for Member States to be able to address a large-scale military conflict involving a symmetric opponent. This calls for increasing the capacity and willingness to conduct the full spectrum of military tasks, including high-intensity operations.

The second CARD cycle was launched in December 2021, where each Member State has met individually with EDA and the EUMS to discuss their defence profile and related plans for the future in the EU context. These bilateral meetings are set to discuss opportunities for collaboration in European capability development are individually tailored to each Member State, including upon request in the Research and Technology (R&T) area. Following the bilateral dialogues, the CARD Aggregated Analysis and subsequently, the CARD Report, including recommendations, were distributed in May and October 2022, respectively.

The final report was approved by Ministers of Defence on 15 November 2022. It finds that increases in defence spending following Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine represent both an opportunity and challenge for European defence. The 2022 CARD Report also shows that the announced additional funds may fill long-standing capability gaps. 

First CARD cycle (2019-2020)

card first cycle

In 2019-2020, the first CARD cycle took place with EDA acting as the CARD penholder. The final CARD report was presented to Defence Ministers in November 2020. It identified collaborative opportunities for Capability Development and Research & Technology throughout the whole capability spectrum, considered to be the most promising, most needed, or most pressing ones, also in terms of operational value.

Based on this catalogue of identified opportunities, the report recommended that the Member States concentrate their efforts on the six specific ‘focus areas’. A comprehensive collection of all CARD collaborative opportunity reports is available and continuously updated in the ‘EU Collaboration in Defence’ (EUCLID) Database.

The CARD reveals that conditions for multinational cooperation in all six capability focus areas are “favourable”, also from a time planning perspective. Therefore, the report finds that broad participation of Member States can be expected in collaborative projects related to those areas, at system and subsystem levels, including through linking such new collaborative projects to already existing programmes.

Member States are encouraged to make full use of all identified collaborative opportunities and especially to inform national defence planners, including for the next wave of proposals in the PESCO context as well as the upcoming EDF annual work programmes.

The first CARD report is available here

EDA as CARD penholder

For CARD to provide real added value, it must be fed with the most up-to-date and detailed information possible from Member States on defence plans (including spending plans), as well as the implementation of the EU capability development priorities resulting from the Capability Development Plan (CDP). The findings of the CARD report may result in projects and programmes within the European Defence Fund (EDF) or the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework. The crucial task of gathering all this information lies with EDA together with the EUMS.