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The mechanism for financing military operations (Athena)

Established in 2004, Athena was designed to administer the financing of the common costs of European Union (EU) operations having military or defence implications. Athena is managed under the authority of the Special Committee, a body composed of representatives of the contributing countries.


Council Decision 2011/871/CFSP of 14 May 2007 establishing a mechanism to administer the financing of the common costs of European Union operations having military or defence implications (Athena).


The military operations led under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) are not covered by the European Union (EU) budget.

Therefore, these operations are funded by the Member States. This Decision establishes a mechanism to administer the financing of the common costs relating to these operations.

This mechanism, which has legal capacity and is called Athena, relates primarily to two types of operations:

  • EU military operations;
  • military supporting actions, decided by the Council, in support of a third State or a third organisation, and which are therefore not under the authority of the European Headquarters.


The special committee is the decision-making body of Athena. It comprises one representative per participating Member State. Moreover, and in accordance with Protocol No 22 on the position of Denmark annexed to the Treaties, Denmark does not participate in the decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications; it is therefore not participating in this Decision.

Furthermore, representatives of third States and the commanders of operations may participate in the work of the committee, but they do not have the right to vote.

The special committee is the body responsible for examining the financing of military operations by Athena. It approves unanimously all the budgets and financial decisions by Athena.

Furthermore, Athena comprises three management bodies, all under the authority of the special committee:

  • the administrator: s/he represents Athena’s permanent executive authority, draws up any draft budget and submits it to the Special Committee, and ensures the proper implementation of the committee’s decisions;
  • the operation commander: s/he carries out his/her duties on behalf of Athena in relation to the financing of the common costs of the operation which s/he commands. In particular, s/he must send the administrator proposals for the "expenditure – operational common costs" section of the budgets and, as authorising officer, implement the appropriations relating to the financing of the operation;
  • the accounting officer: s/he keeps the accounts for Athena. S/he is responsible for proper implementation of payments, collection of revenue and recovery of amounts established as being receivable.

Financing the common costs of operations

Annex I to the Decision lists the common costs of operations borne by Athena whenever they are incurred (certain mission expenditure, costs related to storing materials, etc.).

Annex II to the Decision lists the common costs relating to the preparatory phase of an operation borne by Athena.

Annex III to the Decision lists the common costs which can be borne by Athena during the active phase of operations (the establishment of headquarters, transport costs, salaries of locally hired personnel, etc.).

Drawing up the budget

The administrator each year proposes the draft budget for the following year to the Special Committee by 31 October at the latest. The budget, drawn up with the support of each operation commander for the "operational common costs" section, must include:

  • the appropriations to cover the common costs incurred in preparation for, or further to, operations;
  • the appropriations to cover the operational common costs for ongoing or planned operations;
  • a forecast of the revenue to cover expenditure.

In the case of EU Military Rapid Response operations, flexible early financing procedures are provided for to attain the level of the reference amount set by the administrator.


In 2002, the Council adopted a first document (10155/02) on the financing of EU-led crisis-management operations. On 23 February 2004, Decision 2004/197/CFSP created the Athena mechanism. The Decision was amended several times and then replaced by Decision 2007/975/CFSP. This Decision thus repeals and replaces Decision 2008/975/CFSP.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Decision 2011/871/CFSP



OJ L 343 of 23.12.2011

Last updated: 06.01.2012

See also

  • Further information is available on the European External Action Service website dedicated to Athena
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