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What is ATHENA?

ATHENA is a mechanism which administers the financing of common costs of EU operations having military or defence implications. It does so on behalf of EU Member States contributing to the financing of EU military operations. ATHENA was set up by the Council of the European Union on 1st March 2004. ATHENA's legal basis was amended most recently in December 2011.

Currently five active EU military operations benefit from ATHENA financing, which is provided by 27 Member States (Denmark has opted out of the EU Common Security and Defence policy on military matters).

These operations are:


ATHENA manages the financing of common costs for these operations, which can include transport, infrastructure, and medical services, as well as the Nation Borne Costs, which include lodging, fuel, and similar costs linked to the national contingents.

In the past, ATHENA financed the following operations/support actions:

ATHENA is managed by an administrator and under the authority of a Special Committee composed of representatives of the Member States contributing to the financing of each operation.

What exactly is financed through ATHENA?

ATHENA can finance, for EU military operations, so-called ‘common costs’ which are spelled out in the annexes appended to the Council Decision establishing ATHENA.

In all cases : (Annex III-A) :

  • HQ implementation and running costs, including travel, computer information systems, administration, public information, locally hired personnel, 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. UN)

If the Council so decides : (Annex III-B) : transport and lodging of forces, Multinational Headquarters below FHQ level.

When requested by the Operation Commander and approved by the Special Committee : (Annex III-C) :

  • Barracks and lodging/Infrastructure, essential additional equipment, medical services, acquisition of information (theatre level intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance, including Air to Ground Surveillance & Reconnaissance, human intelligence).
  • Other critical theatre-level capabilities (demining, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) protection, storage and destruction of weapons)

ATHENA may also pre-finance other expenditure in relation to an operation, particularly in the area of real life support.

ATHENA has set out specific financial rules applicable to all expenditure financed through its mechanism.

How are contributions to ATHENA made?

In accordance with the article 41.2 of the Treaty of the European Union, Member States' contributions to ATHENA are based on the Gross National Income scale. Concretely, Member States pay their annual share based on the size of their economy.


Council of the European Union General Secretariat
Athena Secretariat
Rue de la loi / Wetstraat 175
1048 Brussels