A Game Changer? The EU's preparatory action on Defence Research
The Preparatory Action for Common Security and Defence Policy‐related research is currently under preparation, and it will serve as a test‐bed to prove the relevance of defence‐related research at the European Union‐level. The Preparatory Action could potentially see between €75 ‐ €100 million invested in defence‐specific research over a three‐year period beginning in 2017. The Preparatory Action follows on from a pilot project on CSDP research that was launched by the European Parliament with a budget line of €1.5 million over the 2015‐2016 period. The Preparatory Action aims to serve as a basis for an eventual, fully‐fledged, European Defence Research Programme. Indeed, should the work of the Preparatory Action prove successful, the next step would be to insert a specific thematic area on defence research within the next multi‐annual financial framework (2021‐2027) potentially worth some €3.5 billion.
The idea to specifically invest EU funds in defence research is potentially a ‘gamechanger’. Traditionally, the EU has suffered from important constraints when using EU funds for defence‐related activities. Presently, projects and programmes funded under the European Structural and Investment Funds, COSME (Europe’s programme for SMEs) and Horizon 2020 are still largely geared towards civilian rather than military projects, even though defence‐related projects are not formally excluded. One of the chief objectives of the Preparatory Action and of any eventual European Defence Research Programme is to enhance Europe’s strategic autonomy by investing in key defence technologies.
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