European Defence Fund on track with €525 million for Eurodrone and other joint research and industrial projects

Defence 2019

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The Commission has today adopted work programmes to co-finance joint defence industrial projects in 2019-2020 worth up to €500 million. A further €25 million have been earmarked to support collaborative defence research projects in 2019, with calls for proposals launched today.

The Juncker Commission is making an unprecedented effort to protect and defend Europeans. From 2021, a fully-fledged European Defence Fund will foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base and contribute to the EU’s strategic autonomy. Through two precursors to the Fund, the Commission is taking steps to make defence cooperation under the EU budget a reality as of now. The Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) continues to deliver for the third year running. And with today’s decisions, the Commission kick-starts the first EU-funded joint defence industrial projects through the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP). This will focus on areas including drone technology, satellite communication, early warning systems, artificial intelligence, cyberdefence or maritime surveillance.

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said: “Cooperation in defence is the only way to protect and defend Europeans in an increasingly instable world. We are doing our part. Joint projects are materialising. European Defence is happening. On the basis of this successful experience we will scale up funding to have a fully-fledged European Defence Fund in place in 2021.”

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “To ensure Europe can protect its citizens, we need cutting-edge defence technology and equipment in areas like artificial intelligence, drone technology, satellite communication and intelligence systems. With the EU investments we are launching today, we are going from ideas to concrete projects, we are strengthening the competitiveness of our defence industries.”  

Joint development of defence equipment and technology:

The first European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) work programme agreed with the Member States provides €500 million in co-financing for the joint development of defence capabilities during 2019-2020. In the coming days the Commission will publish 9 calls for proposals for 2019, and 12 further calls will follow for 2020. These calls will cover priority areas in all domains – air, land, sea, cyber and space:

  • Enabling operations, protection and mobility of military forces: €80 million is available to help develop CBRN threat detections capabilities or counter drone systems;
  • Intelligence, secured communication & Cyber: €182 million will cover cyber situational awareness and defence, space situational awareness and early warning capabilities, or maritime surveillance capabilities;
  • Ability to conduct high-end operations: €71 million will support the upgrade or the development of the next generation of ground-based precision strike capabilities, ground combat capabilities, air combat capabilities and future naval systems;
  • Innovative defence technologies & SMEs: €27 million will support solutions in Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Cyber technologies, as well as to support SMEs.
  • In addition, two projects have been proposed for direct award: €100 million to support the development of the Eurodrone, a crucial capability for Europe’s strategic autonomy, and €37 million to support ESSOR interoperable and secure military communications.

Financing innovation in defence research:

Today Commission publishes calls for proposals under the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR), the third and final budget tranche under the Juncker Commission. The 2019 Work Programme will dedicate €25 million for research in Electromagnetic Spectrum Dominance and Future Disruptive Defence Technologies – two areas identified as essential to maintain Europe’s technological lead and independence in the long-term.

The calls on Future Disruptive Defence Technologies will look at how best the EU can support disruptive technologies in defence that may lead to transformational changes in the military. This will help prepare the ground for the European Defence Fund which could allocate up to 8% of its budget for disruptive technologies.

 

Next steps

Eligible consortia can apply to the 2019 calls for proposals until the end of August. The first projects will be selected before the end of 2019, followed by the official signing of grant agreements.

With both programmes now operational and running, the Commission is paving the way for a fully-fledged European Defence Fund for the next financial period 2021-2027.

 

Background

In his political guidelines in June 2014, President Juncker made strengthening European citizens’ security a priority. He announced the creation of a European Defence Fund in his 2016 State of the Union address. The Commission presented a first set of actions in June 2017 to allow defence cooperation at EU level to be tested by means of the Preparatory Actions on Defence Research for 2017-2019, as well as through the European Defence Industrial Development Programme for 2019-2020.

In June 2018, the Commission proposed a fully-fledged €13 billion European Defence Fund. The Fund will place the EU among the top 4 defence research and technology investors in Europe, and act as a catalyst for an innovative and competitive industrial and scientific base. The EU institutions in February 2019 reached a partial political agreement on the European Defence Fund, subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. The budgetary aspects of the future European Defence Fund are subject to the overall agreement on the EU’s next long-term budget, proposed by the Commission in May 2018.

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