The European Commission (EC) has launched a European Defence Fund to drive the development and acquisition of new defence equipment and technology.
Valued initially at €5.5bn, the fund will support research in electronics, meta-materials, encrypted software or robotics, as well as assist with the development of drone technology or satellite communication.
European Commission Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness vice-president Jyrki Katainen said: “The fund will act as a catalyst for a strong European defence industry which develops cutting-edge, fully interoperable technologies and equipment.
“Member states will remain in the driving seat, get better value for their money – and ultimately see their influence increased."
The commission will invest €90m in unmanned naval and army systems until the end of 2019.
The fund will also provide €500m towards defence research every year after 2020.
It will also provide €500m in total for 2019 and 2020, as part of a dedicated defence and industrial development programme.
An additional €1bn will be invested every year after 2020 for the development and acquisition of defence technology.
European Commission Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said: “The fund will support collaborative research in defence and the joint development of defence capabilities.
“It will, therefore, be a game-changer for the EU's strategic autonomy and the competitiveness of Europe's defence industry— including the many SMEs and mid-cap companies forming the European defence supply chain."
According to the commission, the EU has 178 different weapon systems, compared to 30 in the US.
There are 17 different main battle tank types in the EU and only one in the US.