Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


EUROPEAN DEFENCE AGENCY—STEERING BOARD MEETING, OCTOBER 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Des Browne MP, Secretary of State for Defence, Ministry of Defence to the Chairman

  The next European Defence Agency (EDA) Steering Board meeting will be held on 3 October. I enclose for your information the draft agenda and draft papers that have been circulated by the EDA (not printed). The final agenda and papers for this meeting will be issued by the Agency later this week but I thought you would like to have sight of these drafts.

  On the basis of the current drafts, the Steering Board will be invited to agree as an administrative item (known as an "A" point) to the establishment of a Defence R&T Joint Investment Programme on Force Protection as an Ad-hoc Category A Programme. We have already informed the EDA that we will not be taking part in this programme as it represents a very high degree of duplication with our national programme. Several other Member States wish to participate in the programme and I will, therefore, be willing to accept the recommendation at the Steering Board.

  The Steering Board will also be invited to endorse a document setting out a Long Term Vision of the EU's capability needs. I intend to offer wholehearted support to this work as a useful common baseline for future planning. As I am keen to encourage greater harmonisation between NATO and the EU, I will ask that the document be passed to NATO so that the Alliance may take it into account when doing similar work.

  The final agenda item relates to the Agency's Priorities and Financial Framework for 2007-09. The Agency is required to recommend to the Council at the end of the year a three year financial framework which establishes the ceiling within which annual budgets can be set. This will be an initial Ministerial level discussion, noting that there is another Steering Board meeting on 14 November. The EDA has proposed a framework that would allow an increase in their staffing levels and an increase in the Operational budget from €5million in 2007 to €10million in 2009. Overall, this would allow an increase in the Agency's total budget from €23million in 2007 to €31million in 2009. I will argue that, while we broadly support the suggested priorities for the Agency, the work plan needs to be developed with a sense that the Agency exists in an environment of resource constraints and that the resource implications of any new piece of work need to be established, priorities agreed and possible offsets identified. I will propose that a much lower ceiling be set and press for more effective scrutiny and controls over operational budget expenditure.

  I will write to you after 3 October to report on the outcome of the Steering Board.

27 September 2006



 
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