The European Commission (EC) announced Monday plans to allocate 1.2 billion euros for 61 joint defense research and development projects.
The high-quality projects selected showed that military-industrial cooperation in Europe can indeed be carried out, and even on a large scale. The nearly 700 companies that will research and develop innovative next-generation defense technologies with EU funds will create a sustainable and competitive industrial base, said EC Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager.
She said the European Defense Fund program, which held its first-ever call for proposals for funding, covers the entire EU value chain.
An EC communiqué published in Brussels said the fund will support high-end projects in defense capabilities, such as next-generation fighters, tanks and ships, as well as critical defense technologies.
The selected proposals will involve nearly 700 entities from 26 EU member states and Norway. The projects are also characterized by enhanced defense cooperation, with an average of 18 organizations from eight countries per project. The EC also emphasizes impressive participation of small and medium-sized enterprises: in some proposals, they account for more than 40% of all involved entities and will receive about 20% of the total requested funding.
Besides, Brussels points to support for breakthrough technologies for defense: more than 5% of the budget is allocated to finance "revolutionary ideas that will bring innovations that radically change the concepts and conduct of defense affairs.
The relevant EC services will now begin preparing grant agreements with selected developers and manufacturers. These agreements are expected to be signed by the end of the year.