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European Defence Agency is the place for defence cooperation enabling EU Member States to strengthen their defence capabilities. Find out more about the work of the Agency in this video.
The EDA was formed in 2004 to build and enhance cooperation between European Member States around a common goal of mutual security. The EU and member states need to be able to protect their citizens and interests locally and globally. The only EU member that does not participate is Denmark, meaning that there are 27 other member nations. It's mission is to improve the effectiveness of defence expenditure.
The European Defence Agency is bringing greater harmonisation into the operations of the European defence industry. Currently each member has rules about the operating standards of equipment and training, but each set of rules is slightly different creating a significant amount of administration. By developing a standard framework for these rules and procedures, EDA is helping to streamline the work of the European defence technological and industrial base and make defence cooperation smoother.
As this harmonisation gathers pace, defense cooperation can become more integrated and able to respond more swiftly to both military and humanitarian situations. There are also great benefits still to be unlocked by working more closely together as defense research projects can be combined with multiple members contributing to different parts of development and innovation. This work also includes the testing of munitions and missiles. In time this will bring Europe much closer to its goal of smart defence.
Greater defence cooperation, regulations, standardisation and certification also requires and enables an increase in defence capabilities and armament cooperation. These matters can help reduce costs for national budgets while simultaneously generating operational improvements. It has also been possible to benefit from access to the European Union's budget by providing funds for greater research and development.
The European Defence Agency also has an Action Plan that will bring about harmonisation in safety features. As with deployment and operating standards, there are also differences between the ways that weapons are stored, stockpiled and transported between EU Member States and eliminating these differences will lead to both safety and cost improvements. It is also believed that these changes will help the European ammunition industry to increase it's competitiveness as it will have less administration to deal with from different member clients.
EDA is also bringing members together to work much more closely towards maritime awareness and having the very best maritime picture. This enables different navies to share the same maritime picture when cooperating on joint missions, such as against piracy or anti drug trafficking operations. This network is called MARSUR and has 15 member states. It is a project for European navies that is built by European navies which enables it to provide the solutions that they want and need.
The current Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency is Claude-France Arnould. By overseeing the organisation and representing it at a political level, she has enabled the Ministries of Defence to come together and share best practices and ideas with their partners and help to develop the institution in the ways that they will benefit the most from. In her words, "Cooperation is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity".