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EC pledges nearly €1bn to boost Europe’s defences

‘Notably in space, cyber and various high-end capabilities’

The European Commission has announced a €924m fund to help boost the EU’s defence capabilities and help develop new tools for defence innovation.

This boost to the region’s capabilities is set to happen through the EC’s adoption of the second annual work programme of the European Defence Fund (EDF).

According to the EC website, the EDF is designed to promote ‘[…] cooperation among companies and research actors of all sizes and geographic origin in the Union, in research and development of state-of-the-art and interoperable defence technology and equipment’.

It is designed to be implemented through annual work programmes that are structured along 17 thematic and horizontal categories of actions.

Thierry Breton, commissioner for internal market, said in a statement: “Today, we decided to mobilise €1bn of EU budget this year to develop common defence projects notably in space, cyber and various high-end capabilities. In our new security context, these investments will contribute to closing the European defence gap. We are also launching a €2bn EU Defence Innovation Scheme to make Europe a defence innovation hub. Complementing the EDF investment effort in capability development, we must now progress towards joint defence procurement as we just proposed in our communication to EU leaders.”

This year, the EC said the domains of space and naval combat will receive funding of €120m each, with a further €70m allocated to research and development efforts in cyber and information superiority.

The bloc said that the EU Defence Innovation Scheme will bring under one umbrella relevant EU initiatives in support of defence innovation and entrepreneurship. Proven practices originating from civil innovation will be used for the defence sector.

This latest announcement from the bloc echoes an arming up around the regions of its various powers since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year. That invasion not only drastically began to realign the continent’s energy structure, with nations choosing to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas, but led to Germany for the first time in decades declare itself to rebuilding militarily.

As Politico reported earlier this year: “Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in a special session of parliament that Germany would set up a €100bn fund to modernise the military and ramp up defense spending to meet the NATO goal of 2% of GDP — two extraordinary pledges for a country that had for decades resisted pressure from allies to step up on defense.”

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