The European Defence Agency was established under a Joint Action of the Council of Ministers 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”.
To implement the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty (Art.42 TEU), this Joint Action was first replaced by a Council Decision on 12 July 2011 which was revised by Council decision (CFSP) 2015/1835 of 12 October 2015 on the statute, seat and operational rules of the EDA.
The European Defence Agency, within the overall mission set out in the before-mentioned Council decision, has three main missions:
- supporting the development of defence capabilities and military cooperation among the European Union Member States;
- stimulating defence Research and Technology (R&T) and strengthening the European defence industry;
- acting as a military interface to EU policies.
EDA acts as a catalyst, promotes collaborations, launches new initiatives and introduces solutions to improve defence capabilities. It is the place where Member States willing to develop capabilities in cooperation do so. It is also a key facilitator in developing the capabilities necessary to underpin the Common Security and Defence Policy of the Union.
Following EDA’s Long Term Review carried out in 2016-2017, Ministers agreed in May 2017 to reinforce the Agency’s mission along the following paths, in accordance with established EDA rules and procedures:
- EDA as the major intergovernmental prioritisation instrument at EU level in support of capability development, coordinating with the EEAS (incl. EUMS) and EUMC in their respective areas of responsibility.
- EDA as the preferred cooperation forum and management support structure at EU level for participating Member States to engage in technology and capability development activities.
- EDA as facilitator towards the European Commission and EU Agencies, and as the interface upon Member States’ request, exploiting wider EU policies to the benefit of Defence and acting as a central operator with regard to EU funded defence-related activities.
EDA role in EASCG :
With more than 11,000 aircraft currently stationed in Europe, the military are Europe’s biggest airline. Europe’s armed forces operate more than 150,000 flights per year. The Single European Sky initiative and its technological pillar, the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) programme, thus have considerable implications for the military.
The military approach is to be “as civil as possible” while remaining “as military as necessary” for its aviation and ATM operations. As an example, a large portion of operations at airports, in TMA and en-route are directly comparable. However, the purposes of military flight operations are substantially different, sharing the same airspace, at the same time, is therefore not always possible. EDA supports its Member States in the identification of the military operational and financial risks expected with the implementation of SESAR. The Agency facilitates also the coordination of military views by gathering input and requirements from Ministries of Defence.
The EDA was originally given responsibility at its Steering Board in November 2010 to evaluate the operational risks and financial implications of the Single European Sky for military aviation. This role was further extended in May 2013 with the adoption of an implementing regulation that set the ground for EDA work at the policy level of SESAR. The regulation provided EDA with the task of facilitating the coordination of military views from and in support of Member States and relevant military organisations and to inform military planning mechanisms of the requirements stemming from SESAR deployment.
The military community must strike a delicate balance between the challenges of complying with SES requirements and the military’s responsibilities for security and defence. The bottom line is to ensure that military aircraft, helicopters, radar systems and aerodromes can operate safely and effectively in the SES framework.