European Union (EU) member states are not investing enough in collaborative defence procurement and research and development projects, according to the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) annual report for 2018.

The report said that despite an increase in the overall defence expenditure by the 27 member states, spending in European collaborative research and technology (R&T) and other key areas remains below 2008 levels.

Total defence spending of the 27 EU member states for 2018 was €223bn, which represents a 3% increase on 2017 levels.

The spending marks the return of defence budgets to pre-financial crisis levels, the agency added.

EDA stated that the countries are not meeting the collective defence spending benchmarks previously agreed upon.

The areas include defence investment, defence research and technology, European collaborative defence R&T, and collaborative defence equipment procurement.

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By GlobalData

EDA chief executive Jorge Domecq said: “It is extremely positive that defence budgets have almost fully returned to pre-financial crisis levels, with 2018 marking the fifth consecutive year of increased spending.

“Our report is evidence that member states have put a renewed impetus into defence spending after suffering heavily in the years following the financial crisis.

“Nevertheless, EDA’s findings do paint a mixed picture in terms of European collaborative defence, with a worrying fall in both equipment procurement and R&T spending in a European context. While European collaborative defence R&T still remains significantly below 2008 levels, it is encouraging that the value and number of ad-hoc R&T projects under EDA is increasing.”

The report found that 14 EU nations dedicated 20% or more of their defence budget to defence investment in 2018. The amount doubled from seven countries in 2014.

Around 96% of the total investment in defence research and technology comes from eight countries.