27 Mar 14. Debating European Cooperation on Defence Capabilities. The European Defence Agency (EDA) hosted its annual conference ‘European Defence Matters.’ The conference brings together more than 500 high level participants from government, military, and industry, making it the only comprehensive rendez-vous on European defence. The event was opened by Claude-France Arnould, the Chief Executive of the EDA and includes keynote speeches from Catherine Ashton the Head of the EDA, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the Commission, the Greek Minister of Defence, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and the Italian Under Secretary of Defence, General Domenico Rossi – representing the current and upcoming EU Presidencies.The conference is the first since the European Council in December 2013, which brought an increased level of focus and political support for European defence cooperation. The priorities outlined by the Council include the need to enhance the development of Europe’s military capabilities and to strengthen Europe’s defence industry. To address the decisions that came from December’s summit and focus on concrete actions, panel discussions will bring together experts on European defence cooperation with high level figures from military, policy, and industry. Panelists include Pieter De Crem, Vice-Prime Minister, Belgian Minister of Defence; Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norwegian Minister of Defence; General Patrick de Rousiers, Chairman of the EU Military Committee; General Sverker Göranson, Swedish Chief of Defence; Alexander Vershbow, NATO Deputy Secretary General; Bernhard Gerwert, CEO Airbus Defence & Space; and Tim Rowntree, Director OCCAR.