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Defence industry: Commission kick-starts European Defence Fund with €1.2 billion and awards 26 new industrial co-operation projects for more than €158 million

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The Commission has adopted a package of decisions supporting the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the EU defence industry. The adoption of the first European Defence Fund (EDF) annual work programme paves the way to the immediate launch of 23 calls for proposals for a total of €1.2 billion of EU funding in support of collaborative defence research and development projects. Furthermore, under the EDF's precursor programme, the European Defence Industry Development Programme (EDIDP), 26 new projects with a budget of more than €158 million were selected for funding. In addition, two major capability development projects received today a directly awarded grant of €137m under the EDIDP.

A Europe Fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “The European Defence Fund now plays a key role in making defence industrial co-operation in Europe a permanent reality. This will foster the EU's competitiveness and contribute to achieving our technological ambitions. With significant participation of companies of all sizes and from across the EU, the Fund provides great opportunities to foster innovation and cutting edge capabilities. 30% of funding going to small and medium sized enterprises is a very promising start.”

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “In 2021, the European Defence Fund is coming to life. With the EU's first-ever dedicated defence programme, European cooperation in defence will become the norm. Public authorities will spend better together, and companies - big or small - from all member states will benefit, resulting in more integrated European defence industrial value chains. In 2021 alone, the EDF will finance up to EUR 1.2bn in high-end defence capability projects such as the next generation of aircraft fighters, tanks or ships, as well as critical defence technologies such as military cloud, AI, semiconductors, space, cyber or medical counter measures.”

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2021 EDF work programme: A step change in ambition

During the first year, the EDF will co-finance large-scale and complex projects for a total amount of €1.2bn. To finance this ambitious roll-out, the 2021 EDF budget of €930m has been complemented with a ‘top-up' of €290m from the 2022 EDF budget. This will allow to kick-start large-scale and ambitious capability development projects while ensuring broad thematic coverage of other promising topics.

With the objective of reducing fragmentation of the EU defence capabilities, enhancing competitiveness of the EU defence industry and the interoperability of products and technologies, the 2021 EDF work programme will incentivise and support a number of capability development and standardisation projects.

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In the first year, the EDF will allocate around €700m to the preparation of large-scale and complex defence platforms and systems such as next generation fighter systems or ground vehicles fleet, digital and modular ships, and ballistic missile defence.

Around €100m will be dedicated to critical technologies, which will enhance the performance and resilience of defence equipment such as artificial intelligence and cloud for military operations, semiconductors in the field of infrared and radiofrequency components.

The EDF will also increase synergies with other civilian EU policies and programmes, notably in the field of space (around €50m), medical response (around €70m), and digital and cyber (around €100m). This aims to foster cross-fertilisation, enable the entry of new players and reduce technological dependencies.

The Fund will spearhead innovation through more than €120m allocated to disruptive technologies and specific open calls for SMEs. It will foster game-changing innovations, notably in quantum technologies, additive manufacturing and over the horizon radar, and tap into promising SMEs and start-ups.

Outcome of the 2020 EDIDP: 26 new projects and two direct awards

The final EDIDP financing cycle resulted in the award of support to the development of a number of new defence capabilities in areas as diverse and complementary as maritime security, cyber situational awareness or ground and air combat.

In particular, 26 new projects with a budget of more than €158m were selected for funding, with a major focus on surveillance capacities (both space-based and maritime capacities), resilience (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear detection, Counter-Unmanned Air System) and high-end capabilities (precision-strike, ground combat, air combat).

The 2020 EDIDP cycle confirms also this year the fit-for-purpose model of the European Defence Fund, namely:

  • Highly attractive programme: 63 proposals competing in the calls involving more than 700 entities;
  • Reinforced defence cooperation: on average, 16 entities from seven member states participating in each project;
  • Wide geographical coverage: 420 entities from 25 member states participating in the projects;
  • Strong involvement of SMEs: 35% of the entities and benefit from 30% of the total funding;
  • Consistency with other EU defence initiatives: notably the Permanent Structured Cooperation, with 15 out of 26 projects having PESCO status.

In EDIDP 2020, 10 entities controlled by third countries are involved in selected proposals following valid security-based guarantees.

In addition, two major capability development projects received a total grant of €137m in view of their high strategic importance:

  • MALE RPAS, also known as Eurodrone, supporting the development of a medium-altitude and long-endurance drone (€100m). Together with other selected projects in support of payload for tactical drones, swarm of drones, sensors, low observable tactical systems, more than €135m will be invested to build technological sovereignty in drones, a critical asset for EU armed forces.
  • The European Secure Software-defined Radio (€37m), ESSOR, boosting the EU's armed forces interoperability by creating a European standardisation for communication technologies (software radios). Together with other projects selected in support of secure and resilient communication (with the use of quantum key distribution), optical point to point communication between military platforms and solutions for tactical networks, more than €48m will be invested in secure communication systems.
Background

The European Defence Fund constitutes the Union's flagship instrument to support defence cooperation in Europe and is a stepping stone for EU strategic autonomy. While complementing member states' efforts, the fund promotes co-operation between companies of all sizes and research actors throughout the EU. The Fund has a budget of €7.953bn in current prices, of which roughly one third will finance competitive and collaborative research projects, in particular through grants and two-thirds will complement member states' investment by co-financing the costs for defence capabilities development following the research stage.

The EDF precursor programmes were the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), with €500m for 2019-2020, and the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR), which had a budget of €90m for 2017-2019. Their aim, similarly to that of the European Defence Fund, was to foster an innovative and competitive defence technological and industrial base and contribute to the EU's strategic autonomy. The PADR covered the research phase of defence products, including disruptive technologies, while EDIDP has supported collaborative projects related to development, including design and prototyping.

More information

EDF Factsheet, June 2021

EDF 2021 projects, June 2021

EDIDP 2020 projects, June 2021

One-pagers per EDIDP 2020 projects, June 2021

EU Defence gets a Boost as the EDF becomes a reality, 29 April 2021

DG DEFIS website – European Defence Industry

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Defence

‘Europe can – and clearly should – be able and willing to do more on its own’ von der Leyen

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reflected on the precipitous end to the NATO mission in Afghanistan in her ‘State of the EU’ (SOTEU) address. The summer's events have given new impetus to the European Defence Union. 

Von der Leyen described the situation as raising “deeply troubling questions” for the NATO allies, with its consequences for Afghanis, service men and women, as well as for diplomatic and aid workers. Von der Leyen announced that she anticipated a joint EU-NATO statement to be presented before the end of the year, saying that “we” are currently working on this with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

European Defence Union

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Many have been critical of the EU’s failure to use its battlegroups. Von der Leyen attacked the issue head on: “You can have the most advanced forces in the world – but if you are never prepared to use them - of what use are they?” She said the problem wasn’t a lack of capacity, but a lack of political will. 

Von der Leyen said the upcoming Strategic Compass document, to be finalized in November, is key to this discussion: “We need to decide how we can use all of the possibilities that are already in the Treaty. This is why, under the French Presidency, President Macron and I will convene a Summit on European defence. It is time for Europe to step up to the next level.”

Von der Leyen called for greater information-sharing for better situational awareness, sharing of intelligence and information, as well as drawing together all services from aid providers to those who could lead on police training. Secondly, she called for improved interoperability through common European platforms, on everything from fighter jets to drones. She threw out the idea of waiving VAT when buying defence equipment developed and produced in the EU, arguing that this would help interoperability and decrease dependency. Finally, on cyber she said that the EU needed a European Cyber Defence Policy, including legislation on common standards under a new European Cyber Resilience Act.

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What are we waiting for?

Speaking after von der Leyen’s speech, chairman of the European Peoples’ Party Manfred Weber MEP said: “I fully welcome the initiatives from the defence council in Ljubjana. But what are we waiting for? The Lisbon Treaty gives us all options, so let's do it and let's do it now.” He said that President Biden had already made it clear that the US no longer wanted to be the world's policeman and added that both China and Russia were waiting to fill the vacuum: “We would wake up in a world in which our children will not want to live.”

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9/11

20 years since 9/11: Statement by the High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell

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On 11 September 2001, the deadliest attack in US history killed nearly 3,000 people and injured more than 6,000 when hijacked passenger flights crashed into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

We honour the memory of those who lost their lives on this day, 20 years ago. The victims of terrorism are not forgotten. I express my heartfelt sympathy to the American people, especially those who lost their loved ones in the attacks. Terror attacks are attacks against us all.

9/11 marked a turn in history. It fundamentally changed the global political agenda – for the first time ever, NATO invoked Article 5, allowing its members to respond together in self-defense, and it launched the war against Afghanistan.

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20 years on, terrorist groups such as Al Qaida and Da’esh remain active and virulent in many parts of the world, for example in the Sahel, Middle East and Afghanistan. Their attacks have caused thousands of victims around the world, enormous pain and suffering. They attempt to destroy lives, damage communities and change our way of life. Seeking to destabilise countries as a whole, they prey in particular on fragile societies, but also our Western democracies and the values we stand for. They remind us that terrorism is a threat we live with every day.

Now, as then, we stand determined to fight terrorism in all its forms, anywhere. We stand in admiration, humility and gratitude to those who risk their lives to protect us from this threat and to those who respond in the aftermath of attacks.

Our counter-terrorism experience has taught us that there are no easy answers, or quick fixes. Responding to terrorism and violent extremism by force and military might alone will not help to win hearts and minds. The EU has therefore taken an integrated approach, addressing the root causes of violent extremism, cutting off terrorists’ financing sources and curbing terrorist content online. Five EU security and defence missions around the world are mandated to contribute to the fight against terrorism. In all our efforts, we commit to protect innocent lives, our citizens and our values, as well as uphold human rights and international law.

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The recent events in Afghanistan oblige us to rethink our approach, working with our strategic partners, such as the United States and through multilateral efforts, including with the United Nations, the Global Coalition to Defeat Da’esh and the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF).

On this day, we should not forget that the only way forward is to stand united and firm against all who seek to damage and divide our societies. The EU will continue to work together with the United States and all its partners to make this world a safer place.

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Education

Statement by Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič on the International Day to Protect Education from Attack

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On the occasion of the International Day to Protect Education from Attack (9 September), the EU reaffirms its commitment to promote and protect the right of every child to grow in a safe environment, have access to quality education, and build a better and more peaceful future, says Janez Lenarčič (pictured).

Attacks on schools, students and teachers have a devastating impact on access to education, education systems and on societal development. Sadly, their incidence is increasing at an alarming rate. This is all too clear from the recent developments in Afghanistan, and the crises in Ethiopia, Chad, Africa's Sahel region, in Syria, Yemen or Myanmar, amongst many others. The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack has identified more than 2,400 attacks on education facilities, students, and educators in 2020, a 33 percent increase since 2019.

Attacks on education constitute also violations of International Humanitarian Law, the set of rules seeking to limit the effects of armed conflict. Such violations are multiplying, while their perpetrators are seldom called to account. In this view, we are putting compliance with International Humanitarian Law consistently at the heart of the EU's external action. As one of the largest humanitarian donors, the EU will hence continue to promote and advocate for global respect for International Humanitarian Law, both by states and non-state armed groups during an armed conflict.

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Beyond destruction of facilities, attacks on education result in long-term suspension of learning and teaching, increase the risk of school dropouts, lead to forced labour and recruitment by armed groups and forces. School closures reinforce exposure to all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence or early and forced marriage, levels of which have increased drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated the vulnerability of education worldwide. Now, more than ever, we need to minimise disruption to education disruption, and ensure that children can learn in safety and protection.

Safety of education, including further engagement on the Safe Schools Declaration, is an integral part of our efforts to protect and promote the right to education for every girl and boy.

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Responding to and preventing attacks on schools, supporting protective aspects of education and protecting students and teachers requires a coordinated and inter-sectoral approach.

Through EU-funded projects in Education in Emergencies, we help reduce and mitigate the risks posed by armed conflict.

The EU remains at the forefront of supporting education in emergencies, dedicating 10% of its humanitarian aid budget to support access, quality and protection of education.

More information

Factsheet - Education in Emergencies

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