A new pact has been signed between the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the EU’s Athena mechanism that will give EU leaders support during the procurement process. According to an article in DefenseNews, the agreement will allow the Athena administrator and EU operation/mission commanders to call on the EDA for technical and administrative support for infrastructure procurement.
The Athena Mechanism administers orchestrates the funding of shared costs of EU operations with defence implications and last year had a budget of €90 million. Until now, procurement processes have been conducted separately between EU operations, mission leaders and the Athena administrator. The new agreement will allow each party to continue working separately if they wish, but also gives the EDA a greater role in supporting procurement for EU-led military operations and missions.
Last year, when operation EUFOR Althea asked the EDA to support the acquisition of air-to-ground surveillance and reconnaissance services, it was the first time EDA was asked to provide assistance for a procurement process. An EDA official said that on that occasion, it took time to clarify respective roles, responsibilities and process, and also have the agreement of the ‘Athena Special Committee.’ The new pact has been established to clarify these points and speed up the process as a result.
However, the agreement isn’t just about speeding up the procurement process. The official said the support given by the EDA would be crucial in minimising the risks associated with procurement. He said that EDA’s industry knowledge, experienced procurement personnel and increased legal scrutiny would be a huge benefit when it came to providing assistance.
“Previous experience has shown that operations sometimes lack the time, personnel and knowledge to conduct a successful tender procedure due to issues of rotating staff, lack of experience and urgency at the beginning of new operations,” the official said.
Requests for EDA support have been made since February. While the timescale between making a request and ordering a solution depends on the complexity and urgency of the tender, the official said he expected it would take around six months for a framework contract offering permission solutions.
In a March press statement, EDA CEO Jorge Domecq said the arrangement would be useful to develop more ready-to-use solutions available at the start of operations in fields like medical services, real-life support, satellite communication or strategic transport.
The EDA’s next goal is to provide support for large, complex tender procedures such as individual operations with the procurement of special requirements, as well as supporting Athena in establishing more framework operations. The EDA official said the arrangement would be a huge benefit for supporting EU-led military operations. He reiterated that EDA’s cooperation would not only increase flexibility and speed up procurement procedures, but provide valuable industry knowledge, technical expertise and contracting experience.
This agreement looks promising, especially given the fact EDA’s support is focused on risk minimisation as well as sharing their own knowledge and experience, rather than simply aiming to speed up the procurement procedure.