Documents considered by the Committee on 23 March - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

11   European Defence Agency



Head of the European Defence Agency's Report to the Council

Legal base
Date originated26 April 2010
Deposited in Parliament25 May 2010
Basis of considerationSupplementary EM of 23 February 2011
Previous Committee ReportsHC 428-iii (2010-11), chapter 20 (13 October 2010); also see HC 5-iv (2009-10), chapter 3 (15 December 2009); (30175) —; (30176) 15442/08 —; and (30212) —: HC 19-ii (2008-09), chapter 10 (17 December 2009); also see (29701) HC 16-xxv (2007-08), chapter 15 (25 June 2008) ; and (28212) and (29268) HC16-xi (2007-08), chapter 1 and (29341-3) HC16-xi (2007-08), chapter 2 (6 February 2008)
Discussed in Council26 April 2010 Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared (reported to the House on 13 October 2010); further information now provided


11.1  The European Defence Agency (EDA) was established under 2004/551/CFSP on 12 July 2004, "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".


11.2  It has four functions, covering:

  • developing defence capabilities;
  • promoting Defence Research and Technology (R&T);
  • promoting armaments co-operation;
  • creating a competitive European Defence Equipment Market and strengthening the European Defence, Technological and Industrial Base.

11.3  According to its website, these functions all relate to improving Europe's defence performance, by promoting coherence: "a more integrated approach to capability development will contribute to better-defined future requirements on which collaborations — in armaments or R&T or the operational domain — can be built. More collaboration will, in turn, provide opportunities for industrial restructuring and progress towards the continental-scale demand and market, which industry needs."

11.4  On this basis, the Agency's tasks include:

  • to work for a more comprehensive and systematic approach to defining and meeting the capability needs of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP);
  • to promote European defence-relevant R&T, as vital both to a healthy defence technological and industrial base and to defining and satisfying future capability requirements. This will involve pursuing collaborative use of national defence R&T funds, in the context of a European Defence R&T Strategy which identifies priorities;
  • to promote European cooperation on defence equipment, both to contribute to defence capabilities and as a catalyst for further restructuring the European defence industry;
  • to work, in close cooperation with the Commission, on steps towards an internationally competitive market for defence equipment in Europe.

11.5  The EDA says that its "comparative advantage" should be "its ability to comprehend all these agendas, and relate them so as to realise their synergies. Its special position should allow it to develop uniquely cogent analyses and proposals across the range of its activities."


11.6  The EDA is an Agency of the European Union. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR; Baroness Ashton) is Head of the Agency and chairs its decision-making body, the Steering Board, which is composed of Defence Ministers of the 26 participating Member States (all EU Member States, except Denmark) and the European Commission. In addition, the Steering Board meets regularly at sub-ministerial levels, such as National Armaments Directors or Capability Directors.

11.7  The Steering Board acts under the Council's Authority and within the framework of guidelines issued by the Council, and meets twice yearly — in May and November.

11.8  Unanimity is required for decisions on role, goals and targets; QMV for internal operations.


11.9  The EDA's website explains:

"The Agency faces outwards. Its main 'shareholders' are the Member States participating in the Agency; key stakeholders include the Council and the Commission as well as third parties such as OCCAR (fr. Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'ARmement),[63] LoI (Letter of Intent) and NATO. The Agency has a special relationship with Norway (through an 'Administrative Arrangement')."[64]

11.10  The Committee was fully engaged in the development of the EDA, culminating in a debate in June 2004 in European Standing Committee B.[65] There, the then Secretary of State stated that its principal purpose would be to improve Member States' military capabilities.

11.11  As previous reports note, a recurrent feature of the Agency's history thus far had been a failure by the participating Member States to reach agreement on the level of growth in the financial framework, with the UK favouring annual budgets rather than a three year framework; while others continued to hanker after a more expansive approach, the UK had pursued a pragmatic approach of broad, active engagement, participation in some projects but not all, maintaining budgetary discipline and encouraging the Agency to focus on where the then Government judged that the Agency could best add value.

11.12  The previous Committee noted that the kaleidoscope had been given a significant shake by the Lisbon Treaty, as a result of which — through the provisions on Common Security and Defence Policy in Articles 42 to 46 — the European Defence Agency had been formally incorporated into the EU Treaty; and that there were also changes to the way in which European Security and Defence Policy would be managed — not the least of which being that the EDA chair would now also chair the Foreign Affairs Council. This was why they also judged that a further debate would be timely, to allow a more thorough examination of the way in which the then Government and interested members saw the EDA now developing. That debate took place in the European Committee on 1 March 2010, at the conclusion of which the Committee took note of an unnumbered Explanatory Memorandum dated 10 December 2009, Report by the Head of the European Defence Agency to the Council on activities in 2009, and European Union Documents No. 16275/09, European Defence Agency document on three year financial framework 2010-2012, postponement and 2010 Budget adoption and No. 16462/09, European Defence Agency Guidelines for the Agency's work in 2010; and supported "the Government's aim of ensuring that the EDA is used to deliver enhanced military capability across the EU".[66]

The Head of the Agency's Report

11.13  As before, this report described progress on the Agency's main output areas and provided an overview of certain capability development programmes, including Helicopter Training, Third Party Logistic Support, the Pooling and Sharing of Capabilities; the European Framework Co-operation for defence research and technology; and the next steps for long term strategies relating to defence industrial base, such as the European Defence Equipment Market (EDEM), Code of Conduct on Defence Procurement (CoC) and components of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB).

11.14  The report also noted that preparatory work by the Agency is underway to replace, later this year, the Council Joint Action of 2004 establishing the EDA with a new Council Decision on the Agency's statute, seat and operational rules in accordance with the provisions of the amended EU Treaty.

11.15  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 27 July 2010, the Minister for International Security Strategy at the Ministry of Defence (Mr Gerald Howarth) said that:

"For the time being we will continue to participate in the European Defence Agency but, as part of the work on the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), we are reviewing all aspects of our defence engagement with international institutions, including the EDA, to ensure that it matches the UK's priorities and interests."

Our assessment

11.16  As the previous Committee had done, we again reported these developments to the House because of the widespread interest in the development of a European defence industry and strategy and in ESDP, and drew this chapter of our Report to the attention of the Defence Committee.

11.17  We also look forward to scrutinising the Council Decision on the Agency's statute, seat and operational rules in due course, and in the meantime cleared the Head of Agency's Report.

The Minister's Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum

11.18  In his Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 23 February 2011, the Minister for International Security Strategy at the Ministry of Defence (Mr Gerald Howarth) now outlines in more detail his views on some of the EDA's major initiatives and programmes, as follows:


"The EDA, alongside the EU Military Committee, has established a CDP, which is designed to align future capability trends with current shortfalls based on European Defence Planning Process outcomes. Seen as best practice, the CDP brings together the plans and programmes of Member States and lessons from operations to produce a product that helps inform them on the critical capability shortfalls. In June 2008 participating Member States voted on the top 12 priority areas[67] for Capability Development. The UK supports the work of the Agency on the CDP process and welcomes regular reviews to the CDP to ensure that it remains an up-to-date tool to guide the EDA's activities.


"The EU and NATO (through NAMSA) are playing complementary roles to address critical helicopter capability shortfalls. Where NATO runs a programme to upgrade airframes, the EDA is leading on aircrew training, and there has been excellent coordination and cooperation between the two organisations. The UK is the lead framework nation for the synthetic training programme, which will provide mission-essential tactics trainings and deliver 50+ aircrews over the next two years, trained to the standards needed to cope with high threat and extreme environmental conditions. This project has clear benefits for operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere.


"The EDA has developed an internet facility to advertise and secure TPLS. This enables nations to publicise their logistics support requirements and identify companies that have the required expertise in mission and operations-related logistics. It is not, however, a contracting platform, and the EDA does not have visibility of contracts that might have been placed following use of the TPLS. Participating Member States of the EDA have used it to advertise requirements posed by their Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions (including ATALANTA, ALTHEA and EULEX KOSOVO). Access to the TPLS facility was recently extended to international organisations outside the EU.


"The EDA has hosted workshops for Member States on 'Pooling and Sharing'. Most suggestions made to date have made generic reference for more common training, logistics, medical and technical support without any supporting detail. Many smaller Member States see this as the only way to contribute and move forward and have pushed for greater technical support and expertise with calls to either benchmark/follow best practice. Regional pooling/sharing between smaller states or with a larger nation are potential areas for further development. While the UK has not participated in any of the pooling and sharing work that the EDA has worked on to date, we support the idea in principle and have offered our ideas on pooling/sharing best practice, such as NATO's Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS). The initiative has the potential to improve the scope for greater burden sharing across our European allies. In addition, the outcomes of the Strategic Defence and Security Review mean that there will be more emphasis on collaboration in the future.


"MUSIS will be a Multinational Space-Based Imaging System for surveillance, reconnaissance and observation to ensure continuity of service from the current HELIOS II, SAR-Lupe, COSMO-SkyMed and Pleiades systems. Six nations (Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France and Italy) have signed a Letter of Intent to develop MUSIS in cooperation for surveillance, reconnaissance and observation to take over from the current capabilities in the future. Space derived data is vital to MOD operations and we are observing the direction and progress on MUSIS, though we do not currently have a financial subscription to the programme.


"The aim of the EDA Future Transport Helicopter, a Franco-German project, is to equip forces with heavy transport helicopters towards the end of the next decade. The UK has currently chosen not to participate in this project as it is not aligned with the UK's current strategy for rotary heavy lift.


"An objective of the French EU Presidency (July-December 2008) was to deliver an agreement between the EDA and OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation) to improve collaborative working arrangements between the two organisations on key military programmes. The Administrative Agreement would cover the principles of the relationship between the EDA and OCCAR, the provisions for consultations between the two parties and security matters. It has so far been blocked by Cyprus despite much work being done on the issues in Brussels, particularly by the UK and France. The UK has been working hard to ensure that we do not import the Turkey-Cyprus-Greece political problem into OCCAR and will therefore not agree to texts that risk doing so. We remain hopeful that the appropriate Administrative Agreement text can be agreed.


"The Maritime Surveillance (MARSUR) project was set up in 2006 when Member States recognised the benefits of improved maritime situational awareness to support the CSDP and wider related maritime missions with the aim of creating a recognised maritime picture by networking systems together across Europe. A limited technological demonstrator will be delivered by the EDA in summer 2011. In addition, the EDA commissioned a report on the requirement for Maritime Surveillance, known as the "Wise Pens report"(published in April 2010) to stimulate wider discussion on this issue within the EU. We note the wider debate on Maritime Surveillance in support of CSDP that the report has generated.


"The European Defence Technological and Industrial Base strategy, adopted in 2007, sets out important policy objectives and enablers to consolidate demand, increase investment and competition thereby ensuring better security of supply in the European Technological Industrial Base. The first key sector identified for strengthening is Future Air Systems, in particular the industrial bases for Helicopters, Unmanned Ariel Vehicles and Combat Aircraft. To support this work the Member States made a joint declaration to identify and examine the obstacles to the creation of a level playing field for defence industry, such as help for Small/Medium Enterprises and market awareness and examination of market distorting factors. The UK supports the EDA's work to develop a rationalised, more efficient and responsive EDTIB. We must, however, recognise the sovereignty of participating Member States and the need for specific EDTIB capabilities on their national territory, together with sovereign control of defence R&D budgets.


"A European Framework Cooperation (EFC) via an EDA Joint Investment Programme (JIP) is the proposal to develop a coordinated approach to security and defence research undertaken within the European Commission (Framework Programme 7, and from 2014 Framework Programme 8), European Space Agency and the EDA.

"The lead candidates for the EFC are Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear (CBRN detection, decontamination and medical countermeasures), Unmanned Air Systems (UAS insertion into European airspace) and Situation Awareness (data acquisition). Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) may be considered later. The EDA is currently preparing the CBRN Joint Investment Programme (JIP), with the technical content and terms & conditions being developed by the CBRN JIP management committee. The UAS JIP is less well developed with the requirement and scope of the programme still under discussion. The Situation Awareness JIP is also in the early stages of staffing and is somewhat less developed than either the CBRN or UAS JIP.

"Although we support the idea of better coordination for R&T activities, we continue to have a number of concerns, including the current lack of a defined military requirement for the Unarmed Air Systems Joint Investment Programme, the precise scope of the EFC programme and, importantly, how the outputs from the work will be used to support capability development.


"To exploit potential synergies between the civil and military space programmes, the EDA plans to establish an Administrative Agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA). This would deepen co-operation between the two organisations. At present, the UK is content to note the Agency's work on developing a draft Administrative Agreement between EDA and ESA.


"One of the EDTIB Strategy's key actions was for participating Member States to 'undertake the wider task of determining which key industrial capacities we must preserve or develop in Europe'. Very early on EDA and Member States settled on future air systems, specifically its capacity to deliver and support another large-scale platform (helicopter, UAV and fast jet) in the 2035+ timeframe.

"EDA has recently let a Future Air Systems study to develop a roadmap to identify key industrial capabilities required to meet the future European military capability demands. The plan aims to cover the next 10 years with prioritised actions for the aerospace EDTIB. Any future UK engagement will need to align with MoD's White Paper relating to Defence and Security Industrial and Technology policy planned for late spring 2011, following consultation arising from the Green Paper published in January 2011.


"In July 2006, the EDA launched the new European Defence Equipment Market (EDEM) designed to increase transparency and competition in defence procurement, provide better value for money, broaden business opportunities and strengthen the global competitiveness of the European industry.

"The EDA operates on the guidelines established in the Code of Conduct (CoC) for defence procurement. The CoC was founded on the rationale that permits Member States defence contracts for domestic manufacturers where 'specifically military purposes' are implicated. The regime has key strands of development aimed at increasing international competitiveness. The UK has benefited from the codes potential to improve the transparency and competitiveness of European defence industry, and with it industry's ability to meet more cost effectively an enhanced level of defence equipment capability.


"The REACH directive is the EU regulation on chemicals and their safe use. It deals with the Regulation, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemical (REACH) substances. The aim of REACH is to protect human health and the environment by providing improved identification and registration methods for chemicals. UK MoD complies with REACH and has run an exemption regime applied where the substance and/or its uses necessitate an exemption in the interest of defence.

"The UK considers that harmonisation of defence exemption processes at European level is critical for national security and maintaining the supply chain. Different approaches on the methods used across Europe to grant defence exemptions may cause complications. The majority of Member States agreed that the implementation of REACH should be co-ordinated at the European level, with the EDA as a natural lead. A Steering Board decision on REACH has committed participating Member States to a common understanding of REACH, the problems it poses and the way ahead. The EDA has agreed it may be possible to develop a minimum set of requirements for the granting of exemptions which would enable Member States to accept other Member States' exemptions in a simpler manner.


"The SESAR initiative was conceived by industry to renew the European Air Traffic Management (ATM) infrastructure and procedures by building on the legislative framework enabled by Single European Sky. SESAR aims to secure an improved European ATM system that will be capable of managing, safely and efficiently, the levels of traffic expected by 2025. It is generally recognised that the current European ATM Infrastructure and procedures are incapable of meeting future requirements, without significant delays to air traffic.

"The Project has been organised into three phases; Project Definition, Development and Deployment. The European Commission has set high-level targets for SESAR in that it should be able to provide three times today's capacity whilst cutting ATM costs in half, improving safety by a factor of ten, and reducing the environmental impact of each flight by 10%.

"The UK notes the EDA proposal to examine how it could best assist participating Member States over the Single European Sky initiative and believes that the Agency may have a role to play by conducting a gap analysis, identifying where it can add value, and subsequently making proposals to the Military ATM Board (MAB) for a decision.


"The EDA has set up the Military Airworthiness Authorities Forum (MAWA) to develop common requirements for airworthiness. The initiative will deliver harmonised military airworthiness and certification standards across Europe. Timely development and implementation of common standards for future air platforms should reduce the duplication of effort by developers (i.e. do things once rather than many times by each participating nation) significantly decreasing the cost to military air systems of airworthiness certification.


"During the course of 2010 the Agency has been preparing with participating Member States a replacement for the Council Joint Action of 2004 on the Agency's statute, seat and operational rules. This is necessary in accordance with the provisions of the amended Treaty on European Union (TEU) and as a planned periodic review of the document. The UK's position has been for the replacement document to retain the existing agreed Joint Action text as far as practicable on the basis that it is acceptable to Member States and has proved fit for purpose. The Agency remains hopeful of submitting a draft Decision to Council for endorsement soon."

11.19  The Minister concludes by again noting that the Head of the Agency delivered this report to the Council in Defence Ministers formation on 26 April 2010.


11.20   We consider the latest Head of Agency Report, together with its 2011 Budget and the question of a three-year financial framework and Council guidelines for the Agency's work in 2011, and the Government's general position on the EDA, elsewhere in this Report.[68]

11.21  In addition, we again draw this further information to the attention of the Defence Committee.

63   The Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'ARmement was established by an Administrative Arrangement on 12th November 1996 by the Defence Ministers of France, Germany, Italy and the UK. Its aim is to provide more effective and efficient arrangements for the management of certain existing and future collaborative armament programmes. The four founding Nations went on to sign a Treaty, the "OCCAR Convention", which came into force on the 28th January 2001. Belgium and Spain joined OCCAR in 2003 and 2005 respectively. The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Turkey are also participating in a programme, without being members of the organisation. For further information on OCCAR, see Back

64   For full background on the EDA and its activities, see  Back

65   Stg Co Deb, European Standing Committee B, 22 June 2004, cols. 3-24. Back

66   See Gen Co Deb, European Committee B, 1 March 2010, cols. 3-24: for the record of that debate. Back

67   Networked Enabled Capability (NEC); Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED); Increased availability of helicopters; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Architecture; Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defence; Medical support; Computer Network Operations (CNO); Military Human Intelligence and Cultural / Language Training; Counter Man Portable Air Defence Systems (C-MANPADS); Third Party Logistic Support (TPLS); Comprehensive Approach - military implications; Maritime Mine Counter-Measures (MMCM).


68   See chapter 12 of this Report. Back

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