Under a precursor to the European Defence Fund, the European Commission has announced funds of €500m for cooperative defence industrial projects and a further €25m for joint defence research between 2019 and 2020, in an attempt to maintain its technological lead in defence worldwide.
The European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) is considered the precursor to the European Defence Fund that is set to be implemented in 2021.
European Commission vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competiveness Jyrki Katainen 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.”
In order to maintain its technological edge over its rivals, the EU’s pledge of €25m for joint defence research will be used to develop electromagnetic spectrum dominance and future disruptive defence technologies, both of which have been identified as areas for future development.
The Preparatory Action of Defence Research project will propose further areas for research funding over the next week, including military mobility, situational awareness in cyber and space, defence innovation and the development of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and European drone technology.
The EDIDP will also fund upgrades to existing precision strike capabilities, air and ground combat systems, and maritime surveillance.
European commissioner for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: “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.”
The European Commission first launched the European Defence Fund in 2017 and it was initially valued at around €5.5bn.