The European Commission seeks to increase the budget with the aim of boosting the EU’s strategic autonomy in collective security from €90 million to €13 billion. The funds will be earmarked for cross-border research and innovation in the field of defense. Given the new threats, increasing geopolitical instability and the diminishing reliance on the United States, the Commission wants to improve internal cooperation in equipment development and defense technology.
The European Defense Fund will award €4.1 billion in grants to support research to address emerging security threats. This will include 8.9 billion euros to provide co-financing to complement member states’ contributions for the development process: as much as 20% for the manufacturing of prototypes and up to 80% for certification and testing. Yet, the co-financing for prototypes will only be awarded if the EU member commits to buying the final product, in order to support viable projects. Around 5% of the budget will cover high-risk and disruptive innovation.
The Commission estimates that the defense cooperation between member states might cost between €24 billion and €100 billion per year. “Defense research is 90% national at the moment, unlike any other field of research,” Vice President Jyrki Katainen said. This is where the European Defense Fund steps in. “We want to incentivize our member states to cooperate in order to achieve better results,” Mr. Katainen commented.
To enhance collaboration, any project within this scheme must involve at least three participants from three different member states. The Commission also wants to facilitate the cross-border participation of small- and medium-size companies. All projects need to be in line with security and defense interests of the EU as well as fall under the priorities set by the bloc in the Common Security and Defense Policy.