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The 2023 Capability Development Priorities

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Written by Francesco Baronio

Edited by Clelia Vettori

Supervised by Emile Clarke

On November 14, the 27 EU Ministers of Defence approved the 2023 EU Capability Development Priorities (EDA, 2023). This constitutes the fourth revision of the Capability Development Plan (CDP). Earlier versions were drafted in 2008, 2014 and 2018 (Defence Talk, 2008; EDA, 2014, 2018). The CDP is a tool to periodically assess Member States’ military capabilities and inform them on priorities and opportunities for cooperation in capability development (EDA, n.d.).

The 2023 document reflects the changing European strategic environment, the political guidance provided by the 2022 Strategic Compass and lessons learned from the war in Ukraine (EDA, 2023). More importantly, like the 2018 revision, it aims to guide the implementation of instruments such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) (EDA, 2018, 2023). Within this framework, Member States have identified 22 Capability Development Priorities.

Three priorities involve the land domain: Ground Combat Capabilities, Future Soldier Systems, and Land Based Precision Engagement (EDA, 2023). It is worth noticing that the first two priorities concerning land systems are included among the focus areas identified by both the 2020 and 2022 CARD Reports (EDA, 2020, 2022). This indicates that these collaborative opportunities still need to be properly addressed. Moving on, priorities in the maritime domain include Naval Combat and Maritime Interdiction, Underwater and Seabed Warfare, and Maritime Domain Awareness (EDA, 2023).

The air domain lists the following priorities: Air Combat Platforms and Weapons, Airborne Command and Inform Capabilities, Integrated Air and Missile Defence, and Air Transport (EDA, 2023). Priorities in the space domain include Space Operations, and Space Services (EDA, 2023). Then, in the cyber domain, the focus is placed on Full Spectrum Cyber Defence Operations Capabilities, and Cyber Warfare Advantage and Readiness (EDA, 2023).

The last area features strategic enablers and force multipliers, with priorities that include Electro Magnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO) Dominance, Persistent and Resilient Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target, Acquisition and Reconnaissance (C4ISTAR), Military Mobility, Critical Infrastructure Protection and Energy Security, Sustainable and Agile Logistics, Medical Support, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defence, and Cohesive and Well-Trained Militaries (EDA, 2023). Again, Military Mobility coincides with the homonymous focus area identified by the 2020 and 2022 CARD Reports (EDA, 2020).

Just like some of these priorities reinforce the CARD focus areas, they also overlap to some extent with the priorities highlighted by the 2018 revision of the CDP (EDA, 2018, 2023). The 2018 CDP identified Ground Combat Capabilities as a macro section of priorities, whereas the 2023 revision lists it as one specific priority within the land domain area. The 2023 CDP priorities in the maritime, air and space domains largely reinforce those identified in the former version. A range of other priorities related to strategic enablers and force multipliers also overlap with recommendations made in the 2018 revision, including Military Mobility, Medical Support, Sustainable and Agile Logistics. Overall, the 2023 CDP showcases the continued effort by EU institutions and agencies to steer the collaborative capability development of Member States.


Defence Talk (2008, June 10). EU Endorse Capability Plan for Future Military Needs, Pledge Joint Efforts.

EDA (n.d.). Capability Development Plan. European Defence Agency. Retrieved on November 23, 2023, from,priorities%20and%20opportunities%20for%20cooperation

EDA (2014, November 19). EDA outlines key priorities of the revised Capability Development Plan. European Defence Agency.

EDA (2018). 2018 CDP Revision: The EU Capability Development Priorities [Periodic Review].,common%20EU%20Capability%20Development%20Priorities

EDA (2020). 2020 CARD Report [Report].

EDA (2022). 2022 CARD Report [Report].

EDA (2023). The 2023 EU Capability Development Priorities [Report].