EDSTAR is the European Defence STAndards Reference system containing references to “Best-Practice” Standards (BPS), in support of Programme organisations.

EDSTAR provides guidance on the use of BPS addressing defence materiel in their whole life cycle.

In order to implement standardisation as critical enabler, EDSTAR targets the stakeholders supporting the European defence capability development, such as: the members from EDA participating Member States (pMS); EU institutions, bodies and entities, as the European Commission (EC), the European Defence Agency (EDA); the European Union Military Staff (EUMS); the European Standardisation Organisations2 (ESOs such as CEN or CENELEC); the National Standardisation Organisations; International Defence Standardisation Organisations as NATO; International Standardisation Organisations such as ISO or IEC; Industry including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and associations; R&T and Academia.

EDSTAR has been established by the European Defence Agency (EDA) in 2011. EDA’s participating Member States are the stakeholders managing EDSTAR through the Joint Maintenance Group (JMG).

As a means to consolidate the highly fragmented defence market in Europe, EDSTAR aims at optimise effectiveness, efficiency, and interoperability of standards application for defence and security products and services.


The concept of the European Defence Standards Reference System (EDSTAR) goes back to an initiative of the European Commission.

On 8th November 2000, the European Commission organized a conference in Brussels on the topic of "European Defence Procurement in the 21st Century - Improving Efficiency and Enhancing Competitiveness - The Role of Standardization". One significant outcome of this conference was the idea to develop a web-based "European Handbook for Defence Procurement” (EHDP). Consequently, the European Commission suggested the establishment of a CEN-Workshop to develop the EHDP. .

In its first phase, from 30th May 2002 to 1st of March 2006, the CEN/Workshop 101 produced the “European Handbook for Defence Procurement” (CEN Workshop Agreement - CWA 15517)2, achieving the compilation of an Initial Handbook with about 10.000 Defence Standards & STANAGs’ identified;

With the integration of the Results of CEN Workshop "Network Enabled Abilities" (CWA 15537)3 into the EHDP concerning Service-Oriented Architecture for civilian and military crisis management including other items for a Network Enabled Abilities environment, applicable to the full life cycle of information system abilities for network centric operations, including specification, development, deployment, registration, and execution.

The CEN/Workshop 10 worked on the identification of a first set of 8 relevant Technical Domains with the review of standards related to the formulation of "Best Practice Recommendations" by each Expert Groups responsible for the corresponding Technical Domain:

Later, CEN/Workshop 10 continued working in the second phase from 23rd February 2007 to October 2008 extending and updating the EHDP on the formulation of "Best Practice Recommendations" for the identified following set of 8 further relevant Technical Domains:

Finally, in the third phase, from 1st January 2010 to 30th of June 2011 the CEN Workshop 10 revised the results from the initial eight expert groups work, and also worked on adding a review of "Best-Practice Recommendations" for the following Technical Domains:

Also, as a result of the third phase, it was elaborated an initial “framework – guidance on selection of standards” for the application of the selection criteria and methodology. This framework was the base for the later published standard EN 16341 for the “selection of standards and standard-like documents for defence products and services - Order of preference”.

Following the completion of the CEN Workshop 10 third phase, the European Commission handed over the EHDP to EDA at the EDA Standardization Day in Budapest in 9 June 2011. The EDA Steering Board in National Armaments Directors’ formation tasked the former Materiel Standardization Group (MSG)4 to manage EHDP maintenance and update. After the handover, the MSG renamed the EHDP to "European Defence Standards Reference System" (EDSTAR).

Also in 2011, EDA launched a study to investigate the feasibility of a joint access to defence-related standards. The results from the EDA study on “Access to standards” has proven the cost benefits achievable compared to the evaluation of current spending of pMS in accessing standards individually. This study led the development of the GLOBAL Access to Standards Initiative (GLAC), a CAT B Project run by AT, together with other four Member States (EL, FR, DE, UK).

The GLAC initiative aim was to set-up and improve the acquisition of standard process, in order to streamline the current acquisition of standards processes. The idea was to bridge access to standards gaps, mutualise existing procurement processes, and Balance contractor power.

Steaming the GLAC initiative findings, in 2013 the EDSTAR system was used to provide the best standards and standardization management practices for co-operative programs and is the tool for coherent procurement armaments practices, allowing for the most interoperability between the EDA pMS. The platform intended at a more efficient supply of defence related standards and in overall cost savings to the Member States and their Defence Industry actors.

Later in 2013, EDA established the former “EDSTAR Joint Maintenance Committee” (EDSTAR JMC). The EDSTAR JMC was installed under MSG to make sure in the long-term that EDSTAR will stay a well-known, acknowledged, essential and major standardization tool for all its users. The missions of the EDSTAR JMC was (I) to manage the maintenance and update of EDSTAR, (II) to continuously improve its contents and (III) to foster and contribute to the promotion of EDSTAR across European Nations and Industry, and outside.

Under the auspices of EDSTAR JMC, the online platform was enhanced and expanded to the following Technical Domains addition:

Moreover, during JMC mandate the review processes of EDSTAR Technical Domains was performed by Expert Group on CBRN, Electrical Interfaces, Environmental Testing, Ammunition, Paints & coatings, Life Cycle Technical Documentation, and Quality of electric power supply - Mobile platforms.

Recently, based on the 2018 European Defence Standardisation Strategy6 and its respective implementation plan (EDSS IP) launched in 2019, the Governance Structure of EDA Standardisation was reformulated. Fulfilling this transformation, in 13 February 2020 the EDA Steering Board established the new European Defence Standardisation Committee (EDSC), superseding the former MSG.

Similarly, in accordance with the new governance structure implemented, the former EDSTAR JMC was and replaced in 2022 by the current EDSTAR Joint Maintenance7 Group (EDSTAR JMG). The EDSTAR JMG undertaking is to assist the EDSC in its mission of supervising the development and the maintenance of EDSTAR, especially taking care of the operational maintenance of EDSTAR and ensuring that its content stays up-to-date for all its users.

Today EDSTAR Expert Groups activities follows the mission, life cycle, responsibilities, composition, deliverables and way of working which apply to all EDSTAR EGs. An EDSTAR EG is established to develop or to revise the content of an EDSTAR Technical Domain. An EDSTAR Technical domain is defined through a scope, which includes a definition and a statement of work for the selection of BPS in accordance with the EDSTAR Guide. EDSTAR EGs submit their deliverables to EDSTAR JMG for assessment and further EDSC decisions.

  1. The CEN Workshop 10 on Standardization for Defence Procurement" (2002 to 20011) was managed by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), supported financially by the European Commission, with the participation of civil and military standardization organisations in Europe, and industry stakeholder representatives.
  2. The CEN Workshop 10 produced the CWA 15517 by a consensus-building process "The European Handbook for Defence Procurement (EHDP) containing references to standards and standard-like specifications commonly used to support Defence Procurement contracts, as well as guidance on the selection of standards and standard-like specifications to optimize effectiveness, efficiency, cost, and interoperability.
  3. CWA 15537: "Network Enabled Abilities - Service-Oriented Architecture for civilian and military crisis management"
  4. The former Materiel Standardization Group (MSG) was superseded by the European Defence Standardisation Committee in 13 FEB 2020.
  5. Outcomes from an EDA project inserted in EDSTAR through the Project Standardisation Management Plan (PSMP).
  6. The European Defence Standardisation Strategy (EDA 2018) guide actions related to defence standardisation activities in support the agreed EU level of ambition, having standardisation as a critical enabler for defence cooperation in Europe.
  7. The operational maintenance addresses the content of EDSTAR: the selected BPS, their metadata and the methodological reports facilitating EDSTAR content use.