European Defence Fund: Commission awaits Parliament greenlight on EU budget

Written by Martin Banks on 29 August 2018 in News

Parliament is being urged to reach a “swift” agreement on the overall long-term EU budget with member states.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

The Commission says agreement is needed in order to press fully ahead with several new EU defence initiatives.

Projects such as European Defence Fund (EDF) are at the forefront of the EU’s efforts to forge a bold new security defence policy.

The Commission says the Fund, launched in June 2017, aims to be a catalyst for the creation of a strong EU defence industry.

However, final agreement on the EU’s long-term budget is needed in order to unlock the potential of such schemes, it says.

A Commission spokesperson said, “The total value of collaborative projects which the European Defence Fund will generate will depend on funding rates the Commission will set for projects in the work programme.”

This, says the Commission, particularly applies to the European Defence Fund and EU Defence Industrial Development Programme which will be operational in 2019 and 2020.

The spokesperson added, “We call on the European Parliament and the Council to find a swift agreement on the overall long-term EU budget and its sectoral proposals is essential to ensure that EU funds start delivering results on the ground as soon as possible.”

Even without agreement on the post 2020 budget, the European Defence Fund “already delivers” pan-European research projects, said the Commission.

“The defence research projects funded by the Union under 2017 budget, such as the Ocean2020 project, are in the early implementation phase.”

The Ocean2020 project supports maritime surveillance and interdiction missions at sea and to that end will integrate drones and unmanned submarines into fleet operations. The information acquired will be combined with conventional systems to build up a comprehensive picture of developing situations for military commanders.

The project will be run by a consortium led by Leonardo S.p.A, bringing together 42 partners from 15 EU countries. It will receive a grant of around €35m. In 2019, the project will stage two real-life demonstrations - one in the Baltics led by the Swedish navy and one in the Mediterranean led by the Italian navy.

Three other projects that aim to improve soldiers’ equipment were each awarded grants in the range of €1m-€3m.

ACAMSII will develop adaptive camouflage that will protect soldiers against sensors operating in several wavelength ranges.

Gossra will improve the compatibility of complex system elements (for example, sensors or digital goggles) carried by soldiers.

Vestlife seeks to develop ultralight body armour for dismounted soldiers.

The spokesperson went on, “Regarding the 2018 Preparatory Action on Defence Research Call for proposals, the ongoing evaluation and selection procedure is ongoing. It is expected to be completed during the last quarter of this year.”

In total, €90m until the end of 2019, with €25m for 2017, have been allocated for defence research projects.

The Commission spokesperson said, “In 2017, when we launched the European Defence Fund, we announced that collaborative projects could generate a total investment in defence capability development of €5 billion per year after 2020.

“This figure is based on the assumption that the post-2020 programme with an annual budget of approximatively €1bn of co-financing, would generate (with the remaining amount provided by the member states), €5bn worth portfolio of defence projects.   

"We didn't issue new estimates for the new EDF proposed in June 2018.

“The new European Defence Fund will provide €4.1bn to directly finance competitive and collaborative research projects, in particular through grants. Beyond the research phase, €8.9bn will be available to complement member states' investment by co-financing the costs for prototype development and the ensuing certification and testing requirements.”

Speaking on the issue earlier this year, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner, said, “The European Defence Fund is essential to bring more cooperation between defence companies and the military in the European Union and to ensure Europe's strategic autonomy.

“The pan-European collaborative defence research projects supported by the Fund are designed to ensure Europe’s technological leadership, lay the foundations for future defence capabilities and support a more innovative and competitive European defence industry.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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