BRUSSELS — All 26 defense ministers from EU countries that are members of the European Defence Agency (EDA) signed up to a pooling and sharing code of conduct Nov. 19 to support efforts of EU member states to develop defense capabilities.
According to an EDA background paper, the actions in the code of conduct are “to be implemented on a national and voluntary basis, in line with defence policies of member states.”
The central focus is for the EDA countries to incorporate cooperation from the outset in national defense planning through the whole lifecycle of a program, including cooperation in research and technology (R&T), to better protect pooling and sharing projects from potential cuts and to take advantage of synergies with wider European policies, including regulatory frameworks, standards and certification.
Speaking at a press conference Nov. 19, EDA CEO Claude-France Arnould said the code “could mean bilateral, trilateral or regional cooperation and not necessarily all 26 EDA member states coming together.”
As per the code, the EDA will submit an annual state of play on pooling and sharing to defense ministers.
New areas for pooling and sharing identified by the EDA are in cyber defense, joint R&T activities, training and exercises, route clearance to counter improvised explosive devices, cooperation on purchasing and warehousing of spare parts for the NH90 helicopter, coordinating maintenance and submarine-related support activities as part of a maritime landscaping exercise, and a European Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Course as part of the European Air Transport Fleet program.
In other news:
A government-to-government online marketplace called e-Quip for redundant or surplus equipment is to be launched shortly, possibly in early 2013. This will enable governments to exchange or buy and sell equipment, including used material, said an EDA official.
A first technical agreement on diplomatic clearance for military transport aircraft was signed, allowing member states to operate overflights and landings without needing to submit diplomatic clearances for each flight, including support for ongoing operations and transportation of dangerous goods.
Ten member states have signed a letter of intent on a European strategic multirole tanker transport initiative to identify requirements and how member states could work together, but it is not a contract with a specific plane.
The EDA has concluded a 228 million euro ($290.5 million) framework contract covering basic logistics services to support the current German-led EU battlegroup.
The EDA’s budget for next year (30.5 million euros) was agreed, amounting to “zero growth” according to Arnould.
Member states are implementing EDA European military airworthiness requirements into national law (a first practical example of their application is the A400M).
Bulgaria, Latvia and Norway joined the Maritime Surveillance network, designed to facilitate the exchange of information and support safety and security, boosting its membership to 18 countries.
Two hundred twenty-seven helicopter training crews have been trained via the EDA’s helicopter training program, with a total of 5,500 participants. Half have been deployed in theater afterward, said Arnould.
As for the defense focus next year, Arnould said states need to keep strong industrial and technological capabilities, including in cooperation with the European Commission.