BRUSSELS — An agreement signed between the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the EU’s Athena mechanism will enable the Athena administrator or any EU operation/mission commander to call on the EDA for technical and administrative support for infrastructure procurement.
The Athena Mechanism, which administers the financing of the shared costs of European Union operations with defense implications, had a budget of about €90 million (US $95.3 million) in 2014. Before the arrangement, EU operations and missions leaders and the Athena administrator conducted procurement processes separately and can still do so if they wish.
An EDA official said the agreement recognizes the potential role of the EDA in supporting procurement for EU-led military operations and missions. Last year, for the first time, operation EUFOR Althea asked for EDA to support a procurement. In that instance, the EDA supported the acquisition of air-to-ground surveillance and reconnaissance services.
“It took some time to clarify respective roles, responsibilities and processes and have the agreement of the ‘Athena Special Committee’. This arrangement aims to clarify these points and thus speed up the process of providing support,” said the EDA official.
However, he added, “the aim of this support is not primarily to speed up the procurement but rather to minimize the risks associated with procurement by relying on EDA industry knowledge, experienced procurement personnel and increased legal scrutiny. 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.”
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