MEPs approve first EU programme dedicated to the defence industry

  • Objective is to foster the EU’s “strategic autonomy” in defence
  • 500 million euros for development of defence products and technologies
  • National governments to cooperate to reduce equipment duplication and invest more in defence

The new European Defence Industrial Development Programme, with a budget of 500 million euros for 2019-2020, was approved by the Industry and Research Committee on Wednesday.

EU financial assistance will cover the development of new and upgraded products to make the EU more independent and enhance its capability in the area of defence. EU countries will work together to pool resources and spend defence budgets more efficiently.

Infographic: 26.4 billion euros are lost every year on duplication, overcapacity and barriers to defence procurement

Who can apply?

Actions funded by the programme will need to be carried out by at least three public or private companies established in at least three different EU member states, MEPs insist, and participating companies and their subcontractors should not be managed by non-EU bodies.

What is covered

The European Defence Industrial Development Programme funds the development phase (between research and production) of new and upgraded defence products and technologies in the EU, from design to certification.

Excluded products include weapons of mass destruction, banned weapons and munitions, incendiary weapons and those which are fully autonomous and can strike without meaningful human control, MEPs agreed.

Funding rates

The programme budget is 500 million euros for 2019-2020. The financial assistance would cover all costs for all projects, apart from prototypes, where a cap of 20% is set.

Projects undertaken under the Permanent Structured Cooperation, the framework for EU cooperation in defence, can get a bonus of additional 10% co-funding, MEPs added. Involving SMEs could, under certain conditions, also generate additional co-funding bonuses, as MEPs encourage them and the “mid-caps” (undertakings that are not SMEs and have a maximum of 3000 employees) to use the programme to create new cross-border cooperation.

Selection and work programme

MEPs want the Commission to be assisted, when awarding the funds, by independent EU experts from as broad a range of member states as possible.

Next steps

The legislative resolution prepared by rapporteur Françoise Grossetête (EPP, FR) was approved by 49 votes in favour to 12 against. The draft mandate for starting talks with EU Ministers on the final shape of the programme needs to be confirmed by Parliament as a whole in March. Once done, negotiations can start, as Council adopted its general approach in December 2017.