The European Defence Fund (EDF) has announced a raft of new funding for defence research projects across the EU, which will cover naval, airborne and land-based operations.
The European Defence Fund was established in June 2017 by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, to provide new funding for defence research projects with a variety of applications, and improve the EU’s defence capabilities. It has a total budget of €90 million for the period 2017-2019.
One project, which brings together 42 partners from 15 European member states, is called Ocean2020, and will support maritime surveillance and interdiction missions at sea. The project seeks to integrate drones and unmanned submarines into fleet operations, and will receive a grant of around €35m.
What other projects will be funded?
Alongside Ocean2020, three new projects will receive grants of €1-3 million, with grant agreements to be signed in the coming weeks. These projects include:
- ACAMSII, which will develop adaptive camouflage to protect soldiers against sensors operating in several wavelength ranges;
- Gossra, which will improve compatibility among elements like goggles and sensors with other elements of the complex systems carried by soldiers; and
- Vestlife, which is creating ultralight body armour for dismounted soldiers.
Each of these projects involves the participation of multiple member states, working alongside industrial partners to develop new capabilities.
What did the European Commission say?
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, welcomed the announcement and the role that the EDF has played so far in increasing military capabilities in Europe.
She said: “The European Defence Fund is essential to bring more cooperation between defence companies and the military in the European Union and to ensure Europe’s strategic autonomy. The pan-European collaborative defence research projects supported by the Fund are designed to ensure Europe’s technological leadership, lay the foundations for future defence capabilities and support a more innovative and competitive European defence industry.”
Post-2020, a further €1.5bn is expected to be committed to the European Defence Fund to provide new funding for defence research projects and support the upscaling of capabilities. This is expected to be divided into a €500m annual budget.