Documents considered by the Committee on 14 December 2011 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

19 Financing European Union operations having military or defence implications



Council Decision establishing a mechanism to administer the financing of the common costs of European Union operations having military or defence implications (ATHENA)[135]

Legal baseArticles 26(2) and 41(2) TEU; unanimity
Deposited in Parliament12 December 2011
Basis of considerationEM of 9 December 2011
Previous Committee ReportNone
Discussion in Council15 December 2011
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


19.1 ATHENA is a mechanism that administers the financing of common costs of EU operations having military or defence implications on behalf of Member States contributing to the financing of EU military operations. ATHENA was set up by the Council on 1st March 2004. ATHENA's legal basis was amended most recently in December 2008.[136]

19.2 Currently the three active EU military operations benefit from ATHENA financing, which is provided by 26 Member States (Denmark has opted out of the EU Common Security and Defence policy on military matters):




19.3 ATHENA manages the financing of common costs for these operations, which can include transport, infrastructure, and medical services, as well as the Nation Borne Costs, which include lodging, fuel, and similar costs linked to the national contingents.

19.4 In the past, ATHENA has also financed the following operations/support actions:

—  AMIS 2 (Sudan) (June 2005 - December 2007)

—  EUSEC RD CONGO (May 2005 - July 2008)

—  EUFOR RD CONGO (June - November 2006)

—  EUFOR TCHAD RCA (January 2008 - March 2009)

19.5 ATHENA is managed by an administrator and under the authority of a Special Committee composed of representatives of the Member States contributing to the financing of each operation.

19.6 ATHENA can finance, for EU military operations, so-called "common costs", which are spelled out in the annexes appended to the Council Decision establishing ATHENA:

  • In all cases:

—  HQ implementation and running costs, including travel, computer information systems, administration, public information, locally hired personnel, Force Headquarters (FHQ) deployment & lodging;

—  for forces as a whole, infrastructure, medical services (in theatre), medical evacuation, identification, acquisition of information (satellite images);

—  reimbursements to/from NATO or other organisations (e.g. UN).

  • if the Council so decides: transport and lodging of forces, Multinational Headquarters below FHQ level.
  • when requested by the Operation Commander and approved by the Special Committee:

—  barracks and lodging/Infrastructure, essential additional equipment, medical services, acquisition of information (theatre level intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance, including Air to Ground Surveillance & Reconnaissance, human intelligence).

—  other critical theatre-level capabilities (demining, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) protection, storage and destruction of weapons)

19.7 ATHENA has set out specific financial rules applicable to all expenditure financed through its mechanism.

19.8 In accordance with article 41.2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), Member States' contributions to ATHENA are based on the Gross National Income scale.[140]

The Council Decision

19.9 A review takes place every three years in accordance with Article 44 of the Council Decision. The draft revised Council Decision is the result of a review which started in September 2011.

19.10 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 9 December 2011, the Minister for International Security Strategy at the Ministry of Defence (Mr Gerald Howarth) says that this review focused on two "baskets", which he describes thus:

"The first basket covered modifications of a technical nature stemming from lessons learnt from operations; providing more clarity on previously agreed text; and updating References which are no longer valid. The second basket considered the expansion of eligibility of common funded aspects of EU-led military operations. The revised Council Decision covers only the proposals relating to the former and does not impact on wider eligibility of common funding. These amendments, which were politically driven, have been successfully kept out of this review by the UK."

The Government's view

19.11 The Minister goes on to comment as follows:

"The financial cost of military contributions to CSDP operations are borne by the sending nations. We accept that some elements of EU military operations should be common funded where costs cannot be attributed to a specific nation (e.g. operational Headquarter and Force Headquarter costs) hence we have previously agreed to the establishment of the ATHENA mechanism which administers these costs. Civilian CSDP missions are financed from the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy Budget.

"The Council Decision focuses on the mechanics of funding and the rules of eligibility on what can be common funded. The previously agreed rules on eligibility have been maintained during this latest review.

"We have resisted further expansion of common costing, in contrast to most other Member States which have supported increased EU engagement in this field. We maintain that Member States are ultimately responsible for deploying their troops, and increased common costing would both duplicate investment already made by many and risks encouraging others to view common funding as an effective and acceptable substitute for adequate national investment in defence capability. Acceptance of the proposed expansion would have resulted in the UK paying twice.

"The UK has protected its position in the latest negotiations. Amendments to the Council Decision have been predominantly technical in nature and have not crossed UK red lines. The UK has been very firm in rejecting proposals that expand agreed eligibility on common funding.

"The one key area that we have accepted limited expansion is on strategic airlift (1-a note of the Council Decision) which is a separate Declaration and not part of this decision and thus outside the scope of this EM. We have agreed to the extension of the current arrangements for deploying EU Battle-Groups[141] up to the end of 2013 in line with arrangements for NATO, and have supported the expansion to include common costs for land and sea strategic lift. This is on the basis of the use of sea and land being cheaper, quicker and in certain circumstances more operationally effective than the use of air. Costs would only be incurred if a Battle-Group were to deploy for which a separate Council decision would be required and on which the UK has a potential veto."

19.12 Finally, the Minister notes that:

—  the UK cost share of EU-led military operations in support of UN-mandated missions is 14.36 %;

—  the total cost of the operations funded by the Mechanism for 2011 is €34.7 million, of which the UK cost share is €4.9 million;

—  funding is drawn from the Peacekeeping budget, which is managed by the FCO.


19.13 We have no questions to raise with the Minister; on the contrary, he is to be commended for having secured what would appear to be a very satisfactory outcome. We are accordingly reporting the results of this latest review to the House because of the degree of interest in EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), especially at a time of Europe-wide constraints on defence expenditure.

19.14 For similar reasons we are also drawing it to the attention of the Defence Committee.

19.15 We now clear the document.

135   Athena: the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice and skill. Back

136   Council Decision 2008/975/CFSP of 18 December 2008. Back

137   EUFOR ALTHEA operation was launched on 2 December 2004. See for further information.  Back

138   EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA was launched in December 2008 in response to the continuing impact of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia on international maritime security and on the economic activities and security of countries in the region. See for further information. Back

139   In April 2010, the EU launched a military training mission in order to contribute to strengthening the Transitional Federal Government and the institutions of Somalia. This support takes place within the framework of EU's comprehensive engagement in Somalia, with a view to responding to the priority needs of the Somali people and stabilising Somalia. See for further information. Back

140   See for further information on ATHENA. Back

141   The key elements of which are: Stand-alone Battle- Group-sized forces (around 1500 strong, including Combat Support and Combat Service Support); deployable within 15 days; sustainable for 30 days (but extendable up to 120 days); designed for compatibility with typical UN Chapter VII mandates to restore international peace and security; composed of contributions from one or more Member States, and open to participation by third parties. See for further information.


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Prepared 22 December 2011