European Defence Agency has grown ‘exponentially’ in last few years, says chief executive
The work of the European Defence Agency (EDA) has grown “exponentially” in the last few years, according to its chief executive Jorge Domecq.
Jorge Domecq | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual
Speaking at a briefing he also said the agency was now operating at “peak output” and that it was now working more closely than ever with the EU and NATO on defence matters.
He said the Brussels-based agency’s relationship with the defence sector had changed and that it was now engaged in more information-sharing with industry than in the past.
The official said that the agency was now cooperating closely with the Commission, particularly in certain areas such as cyber, space and maritime security.
Its relations with NATO had also improved so much, he said, that collaboration between the two was now on a “daily systematic” basis.
Domecq, in a briefing with Brussels-based reporters on defence initiatives and the EDA’s achievements in the past 15 years, also revealed that the third phase of projects for Europe’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative will be launched this week.
The PESCO defence pact - a display of unity and a tangible step in EU integration - was set up in December 2017 between EU governments and involved two phases of joint initiatives, each consisting of 17 projects. The third and latest phase, to be launched this week, is for an unspecified number of new projects.
The idea behind PESCO is for Member States’ militaries to plan, spend and deploy together.
"The key test for the success of PESCO will not just be to generate more multinational efforts but also to produce capabilities that plug the current shortfalls in the EU’s most urgent requirements" Jamie Shea, Friends of Europe
The wide-ranging briefing comes just ahead of the EDA ministerial steering board meeting later this week.
Domecq stressed that, in addition to the PESCO projects, the EDA itself was currently involved in 110 “ad hoc” defence/research projects valued at €270m.
He went on to also point out that there is still a question mark over the financing of the European Defence Fund, which will foster technological innovation and cooperation in the European defence sector.
Parliament advocates a budget of €11.5bn, though a sum is still to be discussed during the negotiations on the EU’s 2021-2027 long-term budget.
The EDA chief said that the final budget for the Fund still had to be agreed by the new Parliament after the European elections next month.
Commenting on the new batch of PESCO projects, Jamie Shea, a Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe, a leading Brussels think tank, noted, "It is welcome news that the number of PESCO projects is likely soon to grow still further beyond the current 34.”
“But to sustain political and public interest in this initiative it is important that we see soon the first deliverables to show that the good intentions are being followed with real and new European military capabilities."
Shea added, "Moreover the key test for the success of PESCO will not just be to generate more multinational efforts but also to produce capabilities that plug the current shortfalls in the EU’s most urgent requirements and move it towards its goal of Strategic Autonomy."
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