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The year 2019 was an important implementation year for the 11 EU Capability Development Priorities approved in 2018 as part of the revised Capability Development Plan (CDP).

This covered the following domains:

  • enabling capabilities for cyber responsive operations
  • space-based information and communication services
  • information superiority
  • ground combat capabilities
  • enhanced logistic and medical supporting capabilities
  • naval manoeuvrability
  • underwater control contributing to resilience at sea
  • air superiority
  • air mobility
  • integration of military air capabilities in a changing aviation sector
  • cross-domain capabilities contributing to achieve EU’s level of ambition

As a first implementation step, the agency developed Strategic Context Cases (SCC) for each of the priorities, which were endorsed by the Steering Board in Capability Directors’ composition in June 2019. The SCCs give an overview of the current situation in the given capability domain and indicate possibilities for cooperation, accompanied by roadmaps with objectives and milestones. In February, EDA presented to the Steering Board part two of the SCCs, containing roadmaps of ongoing capability development activities and possible new ones. These, subject to the necessary ad-hoc decisions by Member States, could be taken forward in the Agency framework. The SCCs are living documents and will be updated by EDA over time, also based on Member States’ feedback, to make sure they always reflect the latest developments in the implementation of each and every priority.


The new OSRA is set to guide and inform all relevant European funding instruments and collaborative European defence research activities, be it at multinational level, in the EDA framework or under EU-funded research frameworks.

The revised OSRA identified a total of 139 R&T areas, the so-called Technology Building Blocks (TBBs), in which European cooperation would yield added value to support the development of defence capabilities.

In 2019, the Agency supported its Member States in the implementation of the TBBs by developing a total of 65 detailed technology roadmaps. These roadmaps will not only help national Ministries of Defence engage in cooperative ad-hoc R&T projects but also inform funding decisions in the future European Defence Fund.


Throughout 2019, the Agency continued identifying Key Strategic Activities (KSA), i.e. critical skills, areas of know-how and industrial capacities deemed essential to underpin Europe’s strategic autonomy.

It did so by analysing the industrial dimension of identified capability and research priorities before determining in which area the European defence technological and industrial base needs to be reinforced.

Joint Defence Planning & Cooperation


As part of the PESCO secretariat, the Agency assisted participating Member States in preparing the third wave of 13 additional PESCO projects adopted in November 2019. This was through the assessment of project proposals on the basis of agreed criteria and the organisation of dedicated workshops with Member States’ experts.

At the end of 2019, five PESCO projects were receiving dedicated support by the Agency. These were in the areas of:

  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defence (CBRN)
  • Maritime Mine Counter Measures
  • Deployable Modular Underwater Intervention Capability Package (Divepack)
  • European Secure Software defined Radio (ESSOR)
  • Cyber Rapid Response Teams and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security (CRRT)


The EDA pursued its work and support activities related to the two dimensions (research, capability) of the future European Defence Fund (EDF).  The way towards a European defence research programme under the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027) is being paved by the ongoing Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) which is implemented by EDA on the basis of a Delegation Agreement signed with the European Commission in May 2017. The PADR was preceded by the Pilot Project (PP), the first EU-funded defence research activity, which was concluded in 2019.

The biggest PADR cooperation project running so far, OCEAN2020, was the subject of a life demonstration in November 2019 with assets deployed in the Mediterranean Sea. Regarding the capability dimension of the EDF and its precursor, the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), EDA continued in 2019 to support Member States in the preparation of EDIDP projects.


The EDA continued its work on improving military mobility with Member States and in close coordination with EEAS, EUMS, EUMC, the Commission (DG MOVE, DG TAXUD) and other relevant stakeholders, notably NATO. 25 Member States joined the new ad-hoc programme on “Cross Border Movement Permissions”. This focuses on Member States’ movement approval procedures, addressing legal constraints and taking into account the transport of dangerous goods, possibly leading to pre-authorisation of movement both in surface and air domain.

Supporting Technology & Capability Development


The EDA pursued its work on the Cyber Ranges Federation project in which 11 Member States federate their national cyber ranges and thereby improve their respective cyber defence training capabilities. In cooperation with the Finnish Ministry of Defence and the European Space Agency (ESA), the EDA also organised a multinational cyber ranges federation demonstration exercise. This was held in Helsinki during November.

In April, the Agency launched the contractual work on the Cyber Defence Situation Awareness Package Rapid Research Prototype (CySAPRRP) project.


AI for research and development of future capability systems and concepts is reflected across the EU Capability Development Priorities adopted in 2018.

The EDA has considerably stepped up its activities in the AI and defence domain. This includes developing a common narrative, definition, taxonomy and glossary of AI in defence. A dedicated AI Action Plan is under preparation for endorsement in 2020.


The EDA continued its support to the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) programme. It now consists of five countries (Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Norway, Belgium) and so far, resulted in the common procurement and operation of 8 tanker aircraft in total.


The EDA continued to contribute to the preparation of the development phase of the European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS) programme. The agency also continued to support air traffic integration activities. The remaining training programme, to be implemented jointly with the European Air Group, is scheduled to continue until 2021 and will address increasingly complex missions.

Initial scoping work commenced on new initiatives covering RPAS contracted services and Countering Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (C-UAV).


The Governmental Satellite Communications Pooling and Sharing Demonstration project entered its operational phase and yielded its first benefits by delivering satellite capacities from one Member State’s resources to other Member States.

Other Satcom activities carried forward in 2019 include the EU SatCom Market project and the Agency’s support to Member States for the establishment of security and access requirements for satellite communications.


In 2019, the EDA continued to support Member States with the further rollout of MARSUR, seeking complementarity and synergies with the Commission’s Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE). It implemented MARSUR phase 2 (MARSUR II) and prepared a future extension of the programme (MARSUR III) in order to improve the provision of a common European recognised maritime picture. The MARSUR Networking Community enhanced its efforts to integrate the MARSUR technology into national systems.


Following a formal request from the project coordinator, the EDA provided support to the PESCO project on Maritime (semi) Autonomous Systems for Mine Countermeasures (MAS MCM). The Agency continued to engage in capability development activities for MCM, in addition to collaborative research and technology projects, with a focus on unmanned maritime systems.

Stimulating R&T and Innovation


In 2019, Member States continued to bring additional ad hoc research and technology (R&T) projects into the EDA, taking advantage of its expertise and incentives. By the end of the year, 30 new R&T projects were under negotiation with a view to joining the EDA’s existing portfolio of 42 ongoing ad hoc R&T projects. This represents an overall value of some €258 million.


Following two successful rounds of PADR calls for proposals in 2017 and 2018, and in compliance with the work programme for 2019, the third and last batch of calls for proposals was published in March 2019. This had a focus on three domains:

  1. electromagnetic spectrum dominance
  2. future disruptive defence technologies
  3. unmanned systems

As regards the OCEAN2020 project, which was launched in 2018 with a budget of €35 million and 42 beneficiaries in 15 Member States, a large-scale technology demonstration was organised by the EDA, Commission and the consortium in November 2019.

The upgrade of unmanned assets and their integration into a common network to deliver increased maritime situational awareness has further advanced throughout the year.

The validation of the Generic Open Soldier System Reference Architecture (GOSSRA) project, launched in 2017, started with a test and demonstration campaign, to be concluded in 2020.


A key objective of the Prize is to attract additional innovative R&T actors, such as SMEs and start-ups, to EDA’s R&T working groups and CapTechs. The 2019 edition was focused on AI applications in defence.

Following a call for applications and the subsequent assessment process, the Prize was awarded to epic. blue. This Belgian company’s idea was to use AI to provide commanders of military operations with accurate and seamless positioning data of teams in GNSS-denied environments.


Activities aimed at enhancing dual-use synergies, including with Commission services, were pursued on a systematic basis throughout 2019. Examples of ongoing work include:

  • EDA cooperation with the Commission (DG RTD, DG HOME, DG CONNECT)
  • the Joint Research Centre (JRC)
  • the European Institute of Innovation and Technology including in the context of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) on Technology Watch

Enablers & Incentives


2019 saw important progress in the setting up of the Agency’s Cooperative Financial Mechanism (CFM). This is designed to overcome the recurrent problem of unsynchronised defence budgets in participating Member States which can hinder or impede the launch of collaborative defence projects.

To mitigate this problem, the CFM will offer mutual State to State lending or, alternatively, outside support from the European Investment Bank (EIB). In 2019, the programme arrangement was put to interested Member States and the EIB for signing. At the end of the year, 10 participating Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain) had already signed it or declared their intention to join the programme.


In 2019, more national military airworthiness/aviation authorities made use of the European Military Airworthiness Requirements (EMAR) for airworthiness management, aircraft maintenance, training/licencing and certification which had previously been developed at EDA.

The Military Airworthiness Authorities (MAWA) forum continued to update those requirements, revised the recognition process and developed a new airworthiness roadmap. A central part of the roadmap are the development and implementation of a harmonised European Military Airworthiness System.


The setting up of a European Defence Standardisation Committee is envisaged with a view to addressing new standardisation challenges and enable cooperation with other institutional and industrial stakeholders, including NATO. Further to the introduction of the Project Standardisation Management Plan (PSMP) as a tool for EDA project officers to systematically identify standardisation needs at the earliest stages of a project, two pilot projects on Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) and RPAS demonstrated the tool’s viability.


Interface For Wider EU Policies


The EDA pursued the implementation of the quadrilateral cooperation established with the EU agencies working in the cyber domain. These are:

  • the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA)
  • the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol)
  • the Computer Emergency Response Team for the EU Institutions, Bodies and Agencies (CERT-EU) – through regular exchanges and meetings


The EDA continued its contribution to the implementation of the EU Maritime Security Strategy Action Plan, in complementarity and, where applicable, through synergies with the EEAS and Commission.


The EDA continued its support to the accommodation of MALE-type RPAS in non-segregated airspace for the 2020/2025 timeframe. This was done with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the SESAR Joint Undertaking and the European Commission. Together with EASA, the Agency produced guidelines for the accommodation of military RPAS, identifying best practices in current operations and supported the definition of standards and preparation of relevant flight test scenarios.


In the context of EDA’s SES Military Aviation Board, the SES Military Aviation Action Plan 2019-2020 was approved in February 2019. The EDA facilitated the inclusion of military requirements in the annual SESAR ATM Master Plan and participated to the Wise Persons Group on the future of SES.


The EDA continued to facilitate the coordination and harmonisation of Member States’ views and positions towards European space programmes. The Agency is exploring possible synergies between European space programmes and the new EU Capability Development Priorities regarding space. It also considers the opportunities provided by PESCO and EDIDP for space related defence activities.


The EDA pursued the implementation of activities related to the REACH Regulation on Chemicals, supporting Member States and defence industry in mitigating the related impact on defence.

Building on the achievements of the first two phases (2015-2019), the EDA and Commission launched the third phase of the Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS) in September. This provided a platform for Ministries of Defence to cooperate on defence energy-related aspects.


The EDA’s engagement with industry was focused on:

  • the capability development process (CDP implementation, Strategic Context Cases)
  • R&T and innovation prioritisation
  • key Strategic Activities
  • wider EU policies (SES/ SESAR, REACH)
  • overall support to industry, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

At project level, the EDIDP/EDF marketplace will be complemented by meetings with industry upon Member States’ request with a view to further facilitate the matchmaking among potential industry partners and consolidate specific projects.


The EDA further enhanced its service for defence-related SMEs by developing a free of charge online tool called ‘IdentiFunding’ which allows defence stakeholders to quickly identify existing EU funding schemes available for their defence-related projects.

Working with partners


The EDA further developed its relations with the four countries having concluded an Administrative Arrangement (AA) with EDA, taking a clear output-oriented approach. Norway continued to engage with the Agency’s projects and activities, especially in the area of research and technology where Norway remains active in all relevant fora.

Switzerland formally joined several EDA CapTechs and the Multinational Helicopter Training Centre, thereby taking important steps towards engaging with the Agency’s portfolio more broadly. Serbia also formally joined the Multinational Helicopter Training Centre, as well as EDA working bodies on standardisation, and participated on ad-hoc basis to the Dark Blade exercise 2019, as well as to EDA meetings related to medical.


Cooperation with the ESA, based on the Administrative Arrangement signed in 2011, was mainly focused on the implementation of established projects in areas such as:

  • RPAS
  • Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)
  • critical space technologies
  • Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS)

Two new implementing arrangements on Cyber and CBRN were negotiated. In December, two new cooperative projects were launched. One related to drones monitoring disaster-stricken regions or toxic spill sites and another on the use of AI for navigating the surface of asteroids or other terra incognita.