The European Defence Agency’s (EDA) ministerial Steering Board met this Tuesday morning under the chairmanship of the Head of the Agency, Federica Mogherini. Defence ministers notably discussed the CARD Trial Run Report, the implementation of the 11 new EU Capability Development Priorities and the Agency’s 2019 budget.
Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD)
Ministers discussed the main findings, recommendations and lessons learned of the CARD Trial Run report and agreed to establish CARD as a standing activity with the first full cycle to be launched in autumn 2019. Some main findings indicate that Member States still carry defence planning and acquisition mostly from a national perspective.
CARD will 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. The report also confirmed an upwards trend of defence spending over the 2015-2019 period, even if it also shows that investment in defence research and development has decreased over recent years.
The CARD ‘lessons learned’ for the future will be further explored in a series of workshops organised by EDA in the coming weeks and months.
“CARD is designed to be a ‘pathfinder’ helping Member States to get a better picture of the European capability landscape and identifying new opportunities for cooperation on capability development and procurement, while avoiding duplication of work with NATO”, Jorge Domecq, EDA’s Chief Executive, commented.
Implementation of the 2018 EU Capability Development Priorities
Last June, Member States approved 11 new EU Capability Development Priorities, which are the baseline and key reference for CARD, PESCO and the European Defence Fund.
Ministers were updated on their practical implementation which will be pursued through ‘Strategic Context Cases’ for each of the 11 priorities together with Member States, in close coordination with the EU Military Committee (EUMC) and the EU Military Staff (EUMS), also involving the EU defence industry. The first version of the 11 ‘Strategic Context Cases’ will be presented to the steering board in June 2019 for approval.
Cooperative Financial Mechanism (CFM)
Ministers were updated on the state of play regarding the establishment of the Cooperative Financial Mechanism (CFM) and endorsed the proposed way ahead. In cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the objective is to make the CFM a tool to sup-port cooperative projects inter alia where unsynchronised defence budgets hinder or impede the launch or implementation of such projects. The European Council called since 2016 for an increased support from the EIB to the defence and security sector. EDA offered its expertise to the EIB for materializing this support and a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed in February 2018 between the two institutions. Negotiations of the CFM Programme Arrangement (PA) were recently finalized; the document is now under staffing in the capitals.
2019 General Budget & 3-Year Planning Framework 2019-2021
No unanimous agreement could be found at the Steering Board on a 2019 General Budget that would allow the Agency to carry forward its increasing number of tasks including in relation to CARD, PESCO, the European Defence Fund or new activities such as Military Mobility. Subsequently, on 22 November, the Head of Agency proposed to Member States to allow the Agency to activate ‘provisional twelfths’ during the first quarter of 2019 on the basis of the 2018 General Budget level set at €32.5 million. Member States approved this way forward on 11 December, by written procedure. At the appropriate moment and taking into account the wider context, the Head of Agency will resubmit an EDA 2019 General Budget proposal for discussion and consideration by Member States.
As a result of the inconclusive 2019 General Budget discussion, Ministers were informed during the Steering Board that, at this stage, no agreement on the EDA 3-Year Planning Framework 2019-2021 could be reached and that the Agency would revert to Member States in due time to address the way ahead.
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