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Delivering on Member States’ agreed priorities

In the wake of the EU Global Strategy of 2016 the EU has launched major defence initiatives to foster European defence cooperation supporting the EU Level of Ambition in security and defence agreed by Member States in November 2016.

The newly established end-to-end planning framework at EU level ranges from common priority setting among Member States through the Capability Development Plan and a regular defence review through CARD to common planning and project implementation, based on PESCO and incentivised by the European Defence Fund.

Although distinct, these initiatives contribute to the same goal: delivering more capabilities through deepening European cooperation and, in doing so, strengthening the Union’s ability to take more responsibility as security provider and to enhance its strategic autonomy and freedom of action.

The basis for ensuring overall coherence to this new approach is common priority setting, geared towards building a more coherent, interoperable, deployable and sustainable set of European capabilities and forces. The prioritisation starts with the Capability Development Plan, which provides the baseline and general orientation for the coherent development of the European capability landscape and serves as a key reference for the EU’s defence initiatives, such as CARD, PESCO and the EDF. 

A coherent approach
from priorities to imapct

The 11 Capability Development Priorities agreed by Member States in 2018 address the entire capability spectrum in support of the EU’ Level of Ambition and are designed to help guide Member States’ capability development efforts. They  have been elaborated by Member States within EDA, and are the result of an in-depth assessment of short-term, mid-term and long-term capability trends, integrating inputs developed by Member States, the EU Military Committee (EUMC) and the EU Military Staff (EUMS). The EU Capability Development Priorities reflect in equal terms existing capability shortfalls in the CSDP context, lessons learnt from recent operations, planned capabilities and potential for future cooperation according to national plans, as well as technological trends and industrial developments impacting future capabilities.

Each of the EU Capability Development Priorities are further detailed into relevant sub-priorities – so called modules. 



Ground combat capabilities

  • Upgrade, modernise and develop
    land platforms (manned/unmanned
    vehicles, precision strike);
  • Enhance protection of forces.
    (CBRN, CIED, individual soldier

Enhanced logistic and medical supporting capabilities

  • Military mobility;
  • Enhanced logistics;
  • Medical support.

Air mobility

  • Strategic air transport;
  • Tactical air transport including air medical evacuation.

Air superiority

  • Air combat capability;
  • Air ISR platforms;
  • Anti Access Area Denial;
  • (A2/AD) capability;
  • Air to air refuelling;
  • Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD).

Integration of military air capabilities in a changing aviation sector

  • Military access to airspace;
  • Ability to protect confidentiality of mission critical information;
  • Coordination with civilian aviation authorities;
  • Adaptation of military air/space C2 capability.

Underwater control contributing to resilience at sea

  • Mine warfare;
  • Anti-submarine warfare;
  • Harbour protection.

Naval manoeuvrability

  • Maritime situational;
  • awareness;
  • Surface superiority;
  • Power projection.

Enabling capabilities for cyber responsive operation

  • Cyber cooperation and synergies;
  • Cyber R&T;
  • Systems engineering framework for cyber operations;
  • Cyber education and training;
  • Specific cyber defence challenges in the air, space maritime and land domain.

Space based information and communication services

  • Earth observation;
  • Positioning, navigation and timing;
  • Space situational awareness;
  • Satellite communication.

Information superiority

  • Radio spectrum management;
  • Tactical CIS;
  • Information management;
  • Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

Cross domain capabilities contributing to achieve EU’s level of ambition

  • Innovative technologies for enhanced future military capabilities;
  • Autonomous EU capacity to test and to qualify EU developed capabilities;
  • Enabling capabilities to operate autonomously within EU’s LoA.

These modules are further refined through so called Strategic Context Cases, which map the European capability landscape and propose activities, or so called ‘Avenues of Approach’, to be taken forward by Member States in a cooperative manner. The Strategic Context Cases are living documents and are developed by Member States within EDA, in close coordination with the EUMC and EUMS. They allow to identify what actions and steps have to be taken in cooperation in the short, mid- and long-term to achieve a more coherent set of deployable, interoperable and sustainable capabilities, for the use in CSDP missions and operations, or within other national or multinational frameworks such as the UN or NATO, considering that Member States have a single set of forces.

The Strategic Context Cases provide an integrated view on what can be done on the basis of cooperation in each of the capability domains, informing national defence planning and the implementation of EU initiatives such as CARD, PESCO, EDF. They therefore also include references to Research & Technology priorities more specifically identified in the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA). They will also refer to the so called Key Strategic Activities (KSA): skills and industrial manufacturing capacities considered important for the implementation of the priorities and underpinning the notion of EU strategic autonomy.

The Overarching Strategic Research Agenda is the reference for research priorities, informing Member States focus as regards defence research activities. OSRA builds on the thematic sectorial Research Agendas developed in EDA Technology Working Groups involving experts from government, industry, small and medium enterprises (SME) and academia. OSRA defines 139 so called Technology Building Blocks (TBBs) – common research and technology priorities – which have been agreed by national R&T Directors. They will serve as a basis for developing detailed technology development roadmaps with a view to launch cooperative R&T projects and inform funding decisions taken in the context of the EDF.

The identification of Key Strategic Activities aims at supporting the EU’s ability to identify those critical skills, areas of know-how and industrial capacities, that are deemed essential to underpin Europe’s strategic autonomy. The Agency thereby analyses the industrial dimension of identified capability and research priorities and determines in which area the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base, namely European manufacturing capacities, as well as skills and competences need to be reinforced. The development of these KSA reports in consultation with Member States and industrial stakeholders, provides an additional angle and valuable information to steer future investment decisions at EU level.

This comprehensive and coherent prioritisation framework informs both national defence planning of Member States and the EU defence initiatives across the capability, research and industrial dimensions. Member States are encouraged to use its full potential, including with a view to inform and guide future funding allocation at EU level, in particular in the context of the European Defence Fund (EDF).

The present platform provides differentiated access to Member States, EU stakeholders, other international organisations and industry in line with the relevant distribution policy agreed by Member States in the EDA Steering Board.

For further information please contact Zsolt Nagy.


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