European Defence Agency

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is an agency of the European Union (EU) that promotes and facilitates integration between member states within the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The EDA is headed by the High Representative (HR/VP), and reports to the Council. The EDA was established on 12 July 2004 and is based in the Kortenberg building in Brussels, Belgium, along with a number of other CSDP bodies.

European Defence Agency EDA
Military overview
Formed12 July 2004 (2004-07-12)
JurisdictionEuropean Union
HeadquartersKortenberg building, Brussels, Belgium
Annual budget€31 million (2017)[1]
Military executives
Key document
European Defence Agency (European Union)

All EU member states take part in the agency, except Denmark, which has opted out of the CFSP.[2]

The EDA and the European External Action Service (EEAS) together form the Secretariat of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the structural integration pursued by 25 of the 28 national armed forces of the EU since 2017.[3]



The Council established the EDA "to support the Member States and the Council in their effort to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the European Security and Defence Policy as it stands now and develops in the future”. Within that overall mission are four functions;[4]

  • Development of defence capabilities in the field of crisis management.
  • Promotion and enhancement of European armaments cooperation.
  • Working to strengthen the Defence Technology and Industrial Base and for the creation of an internationally competitive European Defence Equipment Market.
  • Enhancement of the effectiveness of European Defence Research and Technology.


The tasks have been distilled into four strategies:[5]

  • The Capability Development Plan (CDP) provides to Member States an auditable picture and assessment of capability trends and requirements, over the short, medium and long term, in order to inform national decisions on defence investments; this includes the identification of areas for cooperation for capability improvement, and the proposal concerning options for collective solutions. The CDP is the overall strategic tool, the ‘driver’ for R&T investment, for armaments cooperation and for the defence industries.
  • The European Defence Research & Technology (EDRT) strategy aims at enhancing more effective R&T in support of military capabilities. The EDRT strategy defines the ‘Ends’ (in which key technologies to invest), the ‘Means’ (how to do this) and the ‘Ways’ to implement the ends and means through roadmaps and action plans.
  • The European Armaments Cooperation (EAC) strategy is focussed on promoting and enhancing more effective European armaments co-operation in support of CSDP capability needs. The EAC strategy defines how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of European armaments programmes by a series of actions, applying lessons learned from past experiences through a ‘Guide to Armaments Co-operation Best Practice’.
  • The European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) strategy describes the future European defence industrial landscape, based on the three Cs: Capability-driven, Competent and Competitive. The future EDTIB has to be more integrated, less duplicative and more interdependent, with increased specialisation, for example by establishing industrial centres of excellence. It refers to action fields for which Governments will be responsible, such as consolidating demand and investment. Logically, the strategy links the work on realising the future EDTIB to the Agency's activities on the European Defence Equipment Market. Special attention is paid to the importance of Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises with their typical flexibility and capacity to innovate.


The EDA structure as of 19 January 2018:

Steering board chaired by the High Representative
Chief Executive
Deputy Chief Executive
Cooperation, Planning & Support
Capabilities, Armament and Technology
European Synergies & Innovation
Corporate Services

The Agency is monitored and managed in three ways.[2]

The EU High Representative (HR), currently Federica Mogherini, acts as the Head of the EDA. The Head is responsible for overall organisation and functioning, ensures implementation of guidelines and decisions and chairs ministerial meetings of Steering Board.

HR Javier Solana was the inaugural head of the EDA, a position which he maintained from 2004 to 2009.

Steering Board

The EDA Steering Board is the agency's decision making body. The Steering Board is composed of the defence ministers of participating Member States together with a representative of the European Commission and led by the Head of the Agency.[4] The Steering Board is responsible for projects such as the proposed pan-European Future Transport Helicopter.[6][7]

Chief Executive Officer

The Chief Executive Officer, appointed by the HR, is the agency's head of staff, responsible for supervision and co-ordination of units.[8]

List of Chief Executive Officers[9]
Name Nationality Term of office
Nick Witney[10] United Kingdom2004-2007
Alexander Weis Germany2007-October 2010
VacantOctober 2010-January 2011
Claude-France Arnould FranceJanuary 2011-February 2015
Jorge Domecq[8] SpainFebruary 2015 – Present

The post of chief executive was vacant from October 2010 until January 2011, when HR Catherine Ashton appointed Claude-France Arnould in succession to Alexander Weis.[11] It was reported that this nomination had been blocked by the Italian government of Enrico Letta which wished to see its own candidate take up the post.[12]


Up until 31 December 2013 the agency was organised into five directorates: Capabilities, Armaments, Industry & Markets, Research & Technology, and Corporate Services.[13]

On 1 January 2014 the agency was reorganised into three directorates:[14]

Cooperation Planning & Support

The Cooperation Planning & Support directorate focuses on the early identification of requirements at European level and the through-life aspect of capabilities. It is responsible for capability planning through the Capability Development Plan and the Collaborative Database (CODABA); and Pooling & Sharing including the Code of Conduct. It deals with Defence & Industry analysis to complement the identification and development of capability demands. The directorate is also responsible for key enablers to support defence cooperation and enhance interoperability: military airworthiness, standardisation and certification, and education and training. In addition, it will support CSDP operations and EU Battlegroups at the request of Member States.

Capability, Armaments & Technology

The Capability, Armaments & Technology directorate is responsible for preparing future programmes by maximising synergies between capabilities, armaments and Research & Technology. The directorate brings together the Agency's work in the areas of: Information Superiority (Communication & Information Systems, Surveillance & Reconnaissance, Space, Cyber Defence); Air (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Air-to-Air Refuelling, airlift and aerial systems technologies); Land (Counter-IED, armoured systems, camp protection and land systems technologies); Maritime (Maritime Surveillance, Mine Counter Measures and naval systems technologies); and the Joint domain (mobility, transport, medical and Ammunition). In particular identifying future Critical Defence Technologies needed to support military capabilities.

European Synergies & Innovation

This directorate is an interface between national defence ministries and wider EU policies that have implications for defence. Its main tasks is to promote and support innovation through innovative research in the areas such as: Components, Radio-Frequency & Optical Sensors, Materials and Structures, Energy, and CBRN protection. It is responsible for developing synergies and greater complementarity with EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and European Structural Funds. The directorate is also the Agency's focal point on Space Policy, on which it will have a close dialogue with the Commission and the European Space Agency. It is responsible for Market & Industry policy, including SMEs, Security of Supply, the REACH regulation, market efficiency and global aspects of the defence market. The directorate is also responsible for the military dimension of the Single European Sky, with a particular emphasis on the SESAR deployment phase, as well as the EDA's activities in the areas of Green Energy.


The agency is financed by its members in proportion to their Gross National Income. An effect of this is that some nations pay different contributions towards the budgets than others. For example, in 2007[15] the biggest budgetary contributor was Germany at a cost of €4,202,027 followed by the United Kingdom paying €3,542,487, and France paying €3,347,139.

This budget covers the Agency's operating costs. Individual projects are funded separately.

The budget and expenditure of the EDA is given in the table below[16]

Year Budget (€ millions) Expenditure (€ millions)
2004 1.9 0.4
2005 20.7 12.8
2006 22.7 18.8
2007 22.4 21.5
2008 27.5 26.2
2009 29.2 28.1
2010 31.0 30.5
2011 30.5 30.5
2012 30.5 30.5
2013 30.5 30.5
2014 30.5 30.5
2015 30.5 30.1
2016 30.5 30.5
2017 31.0 31.0
2018 TBD

In its draft budget for the period 2021-2027, the European Commission will allocate €27.5 billion for defence and security.[17]


The European Defence Agency is part of several decades of steadily more formal defence cooperation in Europe. Its work is a continuation of the work of the Western European Armaments Organization (WEAO) and the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG) – it effectively represents the transference of their functions from the WEU to the EU framework, and thus continues the decommissioning of the WEU. It may also be seen as growing out of the Eurofighter Typhoon project, and other collaborative defence efforts.

Initially and up until 31 December 2013 the agency was organised into five directorates.[13] On 20 November 2013 a new streamlined organisational structure, listed below, was announced which came into force on 1 January 2014.[14]

At a European Council meeting on 19 December 2013, a European Air Force (EAF) consisting of surveillance drones, heavy transport airplanes, and air-to-air refuelling planes was debated.[18] This EAF was proposed by the External Action Service of HRUFASC Catherine Ashton, and was seconded by President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.[19] The EAF proposal was supported by Hollande, Rajoy, Letta, Tusk and Merkel who together have QMV majority on the Council. The debate was joined with a view presented by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who maintained that "Nato will remain the bedrock of Euro-Atlantic security".[18] Rasmussen's view prevailed on the Council at this time because QMV did not take effect in Council decisions until 1 November 2014.

Relationships with non-EU European countries

The Agency signed Administrative Arrangements with Norway (2006),[20] Switzerland (2012), the Republic of Serbia (2013) and Ukraine (2015) enabling them to participate in EDA's projects and programmes without exercising voting rights. All Administrative Arrangements are approved by the European Council. The Head of the Agency is responsible for negotiating these arrangements in accordance with directives given by the EDA Steering Board.[21]

A transcript of the European Commission represented by Michel Barnier at the Berlin Security Conference stated that "[after its withdrawal from the union] the United Kingdom will, as is its wish, become a third country when it comes to defence and security issues" and that "the UK will no longer be a member of the European Defence Agency or Europol".[22]

See also

CSDP structures

Other structures


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  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 October 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Permanent Structured Cooperation: An Institutional Pathway for European Defence « CSS Blog Network". Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 June 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 April 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Rüstung: EU beschließt Bau von Helikopter" (in German). Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  7. "EDA and Commission to work closely together on research". Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  8. "Chief Executive". Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  9. "Nick Witney". Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  10. "Catherine Ashton welcomes appointment of EDA Chief Executive". Brussels. 7 January 2011.
  11. Vogel, Toby (25 November 2010). "Budget casts shadow over launch of EEAS". European Voice.
  12. "Organisation". About us. EDA. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  13. "EDA Launches Streamlined Structure Brussels". EDA. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  15. "Finance". Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  16. "EU defence spending about integration, not military capability - Conservative MEPs". Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  17. Waterfield, Bruno (19 December 2013). "David Cameron fights off EU army plan". Retrieved 6 February 2019 via
  18. "Address to the European Council by the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz" 19 Dec 2013 Archived 12 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  19. "Norway and the EU". Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  20. "Member States". Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  21. "Speech by Michel Barnier at the Berlin Security Conference". Retrieved 22 February 2019.
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