Claude-France Arnould, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, with former Chief Executive Nick Witney
The European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) held a special joint academic session yesterday at EDA premises to mark the Agency’s 10-year anniversary. The event gathered over 150 participants.
“We decided to have an academic session because we wanted not only to celebrate, but also to debate about how we see the role EDA and the development of European defence capabilities in the future”, EDA Chief Executive Claude-France Arnould underlined in her opening remarks. This was echoed by Hans-Bernhard Weisserth, Head of ESDC: “Celebrating anniversaries is a great opportunity to look back, but we also need to think about the way ahead”, he stressed.
Food for thought
Moderated by Sven Biscop, Director of the Egmont Institute, two panel discussions were held. The first one was dedicated to the geopolitical and economic context of European defence cooperation. “The EDA was founded in an era of extraordinary optimism for EU cooperation”, recalled Nick Witney, Senior Fellow at the European Council for Foreign Relations and former EDA Chief Executive (2004-2007). “But now more than ever, in these times of budget austerity, we need to make the maximum use of the Common Security and Defence Policy”, he added.
“We need a collective approach to crisis management”, underlined Jamie Shea, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. “EDA and NATO can really work on synergies thank to the good cooperation we have in place”, he said. Meanwhile, Joylon Howorth from Yale University pointed out that Europe needs “a credible and autonomous military deterrent” if it wants to fully play its role of regional power.
The second session focused on capability development. Tim Rowntree, OCCAR Director, provided examples of tangible cooperation programs at EU-level and pointed out that the Organisation stood “ready to bring to support the collaborative programs of tomorrow”. Meanwhile, Claude-France Arnould made the case for increased cooperation through the European Defence Agency: “Cooperation through EDA is not a threat to sovereignty”, she stressed, “and the Agency has been specifically designed to allow cooperation from two Member States upwards”.
Brooks Tigner, Security Europe editor and EU/NATO Affairs Analyst for IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, suggested that “the upcoming Preparatory Action for CSDP-related research could have a real effect in boosting EU defence capabilities”.
A unique book
The event also gave Claude-France Arnould an opportunity to roll-out the special book published by the Agency to commemorate EDA’s 10-year anniversary. “This is the result of several months of archive research, interviews with key actors from inside and outside the Agency, as well as external contributions from various high-level European defence experts”, she underlined.
Titled “10 Years of Working Together”, the book is divided into three main sections covering the history of the Agency, its main success stories and independent viewpoints from key government, military and industry leaders. You can discover the digital version of this book by following this link. Chapters dedicated to the history of the Agency are available here and here.
More information Conference Agenda 10 Years of Working Together: the Book The European Security and Defence College