The European Defence Agency (EDA) was established in July 2004 following a unanimous decision by European Heads of State and Government. It was established under the Council Joint Action 2004/5 51/CFSP on the basis of Article 14 of the treaty on the European Union (Maastricht).

The purpose of the European Defence Agency is to support the Member States and the Council of Europe in order to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management, and to sustain and develop the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

The EDA has the following tasks:

  • To improve the EU's defence capabilities in the field of crisis management.

  • To promote European armaments cooperation.

  • To strengthen the European defence industrial and technological base and create a competitive European defence equipment market, in consultation with the Commission.

  • To promote research, in liaison with Community research activities, with a view to strengthening Europe's industrial and technological potential in the defence field.


In the longer term the EDA will achieve its goals by:

  • Encouraging EU Governments to spend defence budgets on meeting tomorrow's challenges and not, in their words, yesterday's threats.

  • Helping EU Governments to identify common needs and promoting collaboration to provide common solutions.

  • The EDA is an agency of the European Union and therefore under the direction and authority of the European Council, which issues guidelines to, and receives reports from the High Representative as Head of the Agency. Detailed control and guidance, however, is the responsibility of the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee, the principal decision-making body of the Agency is made up of Defence Ministers from participating Member States (all EU members except Denmark) and a member of the European Commission. In addition to ministerial meetings at least twice a year, the Steering Committee also meets at the level of national armaments directors, national research directors, national capability planners and policy directors.

The EDA's chief executive (mid 2010) is Alexander Weis a former head of the German National Armaments Directorate who was appointed in May 2007. The EDA Headquarters is in Brussels (Belgium) and there is approximately 100 staff.

The Agency had a budget of 31 million (US$38 million) in 2010.


The EU-ISS is based in Paris and was established in 2002 and is an independent think tank that researches issues relevant to EU defence and security. Much of the work is published and the EU-ISS organises conferences and seminars on all aspects of EU related defence and security.