The European Commission has outlined its priorities for the European Defence Fund, which will receive €13bn in funding under the next EU multiannual financial framework.
The creation of a European Defence Fund was initially proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2016, to facilitate stronger cross-border research and innovation into defence technologies and capabilities. Now, the commission has detailed its specific priorities for how the fund will be allocated over the period 2021-2027.
The funding will be allocated to support ideas and innovations at every stage of development, in the pursuit of bringing them to a commercially viable scale. Taking this into account, €4.1bn will provided over the seven-year period to finance competitive and collaborative research projects through grants, while the remaining €8.9bn will support prototype development, testing and regulatory requirements.
How will the fund support defence research projects?
The European Defence Fund contains a number of requirements which will ensure the EU reaches its aims. For example, the fund will only be available to projects involving participants from at least three member states, which aims to facilitate greater defence co-operation between European nations.
Further, the assessment criteria for awarding grants will prioritise those projects which include participation by SMEs, to encourage economic growth, and may also involve the launch of dedicated funding calls for such projects. Finally, the commission will ensure at least 5% of funds will be dedicated to disruptive technologies and equipment.
How will the fund support EU defence capabilities?
According to European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, the dedicated European Defence Fund will significantly further and strengthen the opportunities for European member states to work towards a collective defence strategy.
He explained: “We are taking greater ownership in defending and protecting our citizens. For the first time in the history of the European Union, a part of the European budget is devoted to investing collectively to develop new technologies and equipment to protect our people. The European Defence Fund is a true European tool to encourage joint investments and amplify member states’ efforts in defence.”