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An initial long-term vision for European defence capability and capacity needs

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An initial long-term vision for European defence capability and capacity needs

The Long Term Vision (LTV) presents shared views on the state of the world in 2025 in which European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) operations will take place. The report, which is intended to serve as a compass for defence planners over the next twenty years, outlines which ESDP capabilities will be necessary to conduct successful operations.


The "Initial Long-Term Vision for European Defense Capability and Capacity Needs" (pdf) was endorsed, on 3rd October 2006, by the EDA Steering Board Member States, as a reasonable foundation for the Agency's medium-to-long term agendas. [Not published in the Official Journal].


This document seeks to provide a sort of "compass bearing", guidance that suggests the most relevant and robust trends to those who develop Europe's defence capabilities and capacities of the future. It provides only an initial vision, intended to be revised on a regular basis.

In 2025 an even more interconnected world will see the rise of China as the second global economy. Europe will lose economic pre-eminence mainly because of low fertility rates, increasing pension costs and dependency on the rest of the world, in particular for energy. Europe's immediate neighbourhood may become more problematic and, whilst concern with the legality of military operations will increase, taxpayers will favour "security" over "defence" spending.

Challenges for defence

Defence will need to continue adapting to:

  • the changing role of force. Military forces are increasingly under 24/7 media scrutiny so that the interplay between politics, the military and the media is continuous. Warfare is moving from the industrial age to the information age, as technology and intelligence/information are becoming essential in opaque circumstances and against an obscure enemy ;
  • the technological revolution. Science and technology are playing a key part in driving the changing role of military forces. Continuous developments in micro-electronics, communication and sensing technologies, bio- and material sciences and energy technologies will provide modern armed forces with great advantages. The adversary will do his best to exploit our own advances. Increasingly, defence will need to draw from the progress of civil technology.

ESDP operations

The typical ESDP operations will be expeditionary, multinational and multi-instrument; they will strive to achieve "stability" more than "victory". Armed forces are only one component of a comprehensive and integrated approach to ESDP crisis management operations. Information is becoming increasingly critical and cyberspace plays an evermore-strategic role. "Asymmetry" will apply not merely to an opponent's tactics but also to his aims and values.

Future force and capabilities

Future forces and their capabilities must be founded on comprehensive and effects-based planning. Four main characteristics are emerging as key strategic issues:

  • Synergy: developing combined-arms warfare on the basis of upgraded coordination with non-military actors (NGOs, media, etc.) ;
  • Agility: rapidity of reaction, tailorable force packaging and deployability - future joint forces will also need to be agile at the operational, tactical and strategic level ;
  • Selectivity: ability to graduate the application of force choosing from among a wide range of capabilities (i.e. using kinetic or non-kinetic means) on the basis of in-depth analysis ;
  • Sustainability: suggesting the right logistic support, but also theatre access.

The above characteristics of future force and capabilities are translated into the Future Capability Profile (attached to the LTV as an annex), that is divided in six capability headings: Command, Inform, Engage, Protect, Deploy and Sustain.

Key issues

Defence planners will need to concentrate particularly on some key issues:

  • Knowledge exploitation (intelligence, information and analysis) ;
  • Interoperability (equipment and systems) ;
  • Manpower balance ;
  • Rapid acquisition ;
  • Industrial policy (increasing investment and consolidating the EDTIB) ;
  • Flexibility in the case of the unforeseen.


In November 2005 the Ministerial Steering Board of the European Defence Agency (EDA) asked the Agency to develop an initial long-term vision of European defence capability and capacity needs, looking two decades ahead. The "Long-Term Vision report" is the product of 11 months of study involving officials and experts from governments, defence bodies, academia and industry across Europe, with a pre eminent contribution from the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) and the EU Military Committee (EUMC).

See also

For further information, please consult the following website:

- European Defence Agency.

Last updated: 21.01.2007