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Athena - financing security and defence military operations

Athena is a mechanism which handles the financing of common costs relating to EU military operations under the EU's common security and defence policy (CSDP).

Athena is managed by an administrator and under the authority of a Special Committee made up of representatives from the member states contributing to the financing of each operation.

Contact the Athena secretariat

On 1 March 2004, the Council of the European Union set up Athena. 27 EU member states contribute to the financing of EU military operations, with Denmark deciding to opt out of CSDP on military matters. 

6 active EU military operations currently benefit from Athena financing:

  • EUFOR ALTHEA (Bosnia Herzegovina)
  • EUNAVFOR ATALANTA (Horn of Africa)
  • EUTM SOMALIA
  • EUTM MALI
  • EUNAVFOR MED
  • EUTM RCA

Previous operations funded by Athena:

  • AMIS 2 (Sudan) (July 2005 - December 2007)
  • EUFOR RD CONGO (June 2006 - November 2006)
  • EUFOR TCHAD RCA (January 2008 - March 2009)
  • EUFOR Libya (April 2011 - November 2011)
  • EUFOR RCA (February 2014 - March 2015)
  • EUMAM RCA (January 2015 - July 2016)

Scope of Athena financing

Athena can finance the common costs of EU military operations as well as the nation borne costs, which include lodging, fuel, and similar costs linked to national contingents.

In all cases, these costs are:

  • HQ implementation and running costs, including travel, IT systems, administration, public information, locally hired staff, Force Headquarters (FHQ) deployment & lodging
  • for forces as a whole, infrastructure, medical services (in theatre), medical evacuation, identification, acquisition of information (satellite images)
  • reimbursements to/from NATO or other organisations (e.g. the UN)

If the Council so decides, Athena can also finance costs relating to the transport and lodging of forces, and multinational headquarters  below FHQ level.

When requested by the Operation Commander and approved by the Special Committee, Athena may also finance the following:

  • barracks and lodging/infrastructure, essential additional equipment, medical services, acquisition of information (theatre level intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance, including air to ground surveillance & reconnaissance and human intelligence)
  • other critical theatre-level capabilities (demining, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) protection, storage and destruction of weapons)

Member states contribution to Athena

The rules on contributions to Athena are set out in article 41.2 of the Treaty on the European Union. Member states contribute an annual share based on their Gross National Income.

Athena may also pre-finance other expenditure relating to an operation, particularly in the area of real-life support. Specific financial rules apply to all the expenditure financed through the Athena mechanism.

Athena's financial rules

Athena's financial rules are set by the Special Committee. Specific rules apply to the different areas of eligible expenditure, and to recruitment and procurement under Athena.

Data protection

The Athena Special Committee has adopted the following implementing rules as regards the application of Regulation 45/2001 to Athena.