Friday

18th Jan 2019

MEPs to back multi-million euro military research budget

  • The EU wants to boost its defence industry with research grants (Photo: ThyssenKrupp)

The EU parliament is poised to approve spending public money on military research on a large scale for the first time.

MEPs on Wednesday (26 October) are voting on a proposal that seeks to fund "innovative defence technology" from 2017 over three years under a so-called Preparatory Action for Defence Research.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • (Photo: Defence Images)

Around €25 million per year will be set aside in annual EU budgets for an effort that aims to kick-start a multi-billion euro defence research programme in the next seven-year budget cycle starting 2021.

The move signals a major shift towards granting European defence companies access to an EU budget that has so far been largely off limits for military research. Many have received grants from the EU's Horizon 2020 programme, where spending has been categorised as “security” rather than military.

The 1,600-page draft 2017 EU budget proposal sets out explicit objectives.

It notes, among other things, the need to launch a "large scale demonstration project" by next year to showcase "a first experimental development of new, innovative defence technology".

Laetitia Sedou, EU programme officer at the Brussels-based European Network Against Arms Trade, says the EU subsidy push has been largely driven by the European Commission and the industry.

"There was a very strong involvement in the industry through what they call a Group of Personalities, more than half of which is made of industry who would be entitled to benefit from this funding," she said.

Along with politicians like EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the Group of Personalities includes the CEOs of Airbus, Saab, BAE systems, Finmeccanica, among others. Launched by the EU commission in 2015, the group provides policy advice on European defence cooperation.

Earlier this year, the group argued in a report that EU funding was needed to shore up national budget shortfalls given the financial crisis.

They also said a strong European defence industry would not only create jobs but also face down regional instability and over-reliance on allies like the US.

Efforts to get the EU to finance military research initially kicked off in 2014 when over €1 million was given to a pilot project run by the European Defence Agency (EDA).

"This is the first time that defence research will be funded through the EU budget," said the agency in March.

The pilot project was the initial step towards creating a possible fully fledged defence research programme under the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021 to 2027.

The EDA is set to announce the projects it selected under the scheme this Friday.

“Securing the long-term future for our defence industry is in all our interests. Both nationally and collectively,” said the EU commission last year.

Italy lays out 'vision' of EU army

Italy has laid out plans for the creation of a “European force” that goes beyond Franco-German proposals on defence integration.

EU joint defence to focus on south

France and Germany propose leap forward on EU defence, but ideas are far from being an "EU army", and target African crises instead of Russia.

MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

The EU parliament's internal chiefs have so far refused to introduce mandatory training on dealing with sexual harassment. MEPs have now asked for it again.

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us