Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg both addressed the meeting, but apart from expressing their shock and sympathy refrained from getting into detail on possible policy responses.
The EDA is, of course, concerned with defence industry cooperation rather than security. But the assembled high-level military and political players as well as journalists offered a perfect opportunity to discuss the measures needed to deter future terrorist attacks by jihadists or others.
So far, there has been only disarray between European governments over whether and how to retaliate against the Islamic State, or Daesh, leaders who claimed responsibility for the attacks. Yet while it's difficult to fashion concrete policies for dealing with their 'hybrid warfare' tactics, it is nevertheless essential that the EU should do so.
The tired old argument that unveiling anti-terrorism plans only forewarns the terrorists is no longer valid, and probably never was. On the contrary, the young men who have been radicalised to the point of becoming suicide attackers will best be deterred by the knowledge that their efforts are certain to fail.
Right now, they and their sponsors in Syria or Iraq are well aware that EU countries' counter-terrorism arrangements are patchy at best. As with earlier outrages like the Madrid and London bombings in 2005, attacks in Belgium or January's shootings in Paris, post-attack investigation reveals alarming weaknesses in the machinery of cooperation between national police and intelligence-gathering authorities.
The EU has been able to claim it has had a counter-terrorism strategy since 2005, which it put together in the wake of the attacks on Madrid and London. Its review then of the steps to be taken led in 2007 to the appointment of a "Co-ordinator" whose role is to pull together the different strands of national and EU-level policies.
But as with so many well-intentioned EU efforts, the counter-terrorism one has been under-funded and lacks genuine powers. It has also found itself buffeted by political winds from different directions. The proposed Passenger Name Records (PNR) Directive on air travellers' data has been frozen since 2011 by concerns in the European Parliament over data privacy. That opposition was unblocked following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, so the signs are it will go through sometime next year, in much the same way that the 2010 EU-U.S. Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme finally did.
What is needed now is for the EU policymakers to highlight a far more coherent approach to combatting terrorist attacks. The European public must be reassured that in the security sector "more Europe" is essential. The EU has a range of instruments at its disposal, but these need to be sharpened and publicised as deterrents. As well as the Europol policing and information-sharing organisation based in The Hague there's the little-known EU Intelligence Analysis Centre that's part of the EEAS - the EU's 'diplomatic service' - whose task is to provide early warning of terrorist attacks.
It is hard to tell how effective these arrangements have been. Security officials are traditionally reluctant to speak of their successes in foiling attacks, but it's a discretion that should be questioned and reviewed. Driving home to global public opinion that Europe is well-prepared and capable of neutralising terrorist assaults is as important as taking the steps to do so.
What the EU cannot afford, meanwhile, is the sorry spectacle of governments and European institutions that are yet again caught unawares and unable to convey a convincingly coherent message. For Europe's citizens, the value of EU integration and unity must surely include greater security against terrorist attacks. But in the clamour of voices over the week-end following the Paris massacres, it was Brussels' silence that was the most notable.
IMAGE CREDIT: CC / FLICKR – European External Action Service