The European Commission has announced a series of work programs aimed at co-financing joint industrial defence projects for 2019-2020 worth up to 500 million euros. Another 25 million euros have been allocated to financing collaborative research projects in defence in 2019.
“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,” Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said in statement.
The funding provides for the first projects to be delivered through the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) and will focus on areas including drone technology, satellite communication, early warning systems, artificial intelligence, cyberdefence or maritime surveillance.
“With the European investments we are putting in place today, we are moving from ideas to concrete projects and strengthening the competitiveness of our defense industries,” said Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowsa.
Some €182 million will be used to improve cyber defence capacities, maritime surveillance and early warning systems, as well as “situational awareness” in the areas of space and cyberspace.
Another €80 million will be reserved for projects to improve detection capabilities of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threats (CBRN) or counter drone systems, while €71 million will contribute to the development of next-generation precision ground attack systems, ground and air combat equipment and future naval systems.
A further €27 million will support solutions in Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Cyber technologies, as well as to support SMEs.
The Eurodrone project, which the Commission called “fundamental” for the strategic autonomy of Europe, will receive €100 million in direct aid.
Eligible consortia can respond to calls for proposals for 2019 until the end of August. The selection of the first projects will be made before the end of this year, followed by the official signing of the grant agreements.
Companies from third countries (such as the United Kingdom after Brexit) that have subsidiaries in the EU will also be eligible for Community funding.
In 2018 the European Union decided to set up a European Defense Fund of €13 billion for the period 2021-2027. As a precursor to this this fund, the Commission established the European Defence Industrial Development Programme with €500 million from the common budget for the period 2019-2020.