Common Security and Defence Policy related Research Preparatory action 2017

In “Europe as a stronger global actor”

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A competitive and efficient European defence and technological industrial base requires more investment in research and innovation. After the European Council (EUCO) conclusions of December 2013 on common security and defence policy (CSDP), a high-level group on defence research was set up, which informed the Commission's plans to launch a preparatory action (PA) – the testing of a new policy requiring financial resources – on CSDP-related research outside Horizon 2020.

At the European Parliament's (EP) initiative, a pilot project (PP) was successfully included in the 2015 EU budget. The PP is an instrument under Article 54 of the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF); its duration is set at maximum 2 years and funding is limited to around €2mil. For the first time, this inclusion allows EU funds to be transferred to the European Defence Agency in support of research into military requirements. In 3 resolutions adopted in 2016, the EP underlined the importance to further develop CSDP-related research and to set up a PA in 2017. In its 16 March 2017 resolution, the EP called for the full implementation of the Preparatory Action for defence-related research (PADR).

The PA could pave the way to a fully-fledged EU defence R&D programme within the 2021-2027 MFF. On 14 September 2016, in his State of the Union address, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed the creation of a European Defence Fund (EDF) with the purpose of boosting research and innovation in the European defence industry. On 14 November 2016, the HR/VP presented the implementation plan on security and defence to the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) which has endorsed it.

On 30 November 2016, the Commission presented the European defence action plan (EDAP), which outlines steps towards a EDF. One of its key aspects is a 'research window' to fund collaborative defence projects: the PA (€90 million planned for 2017-2019) could lead to a dedicated EU programme estimated at €500 million per year post-2020.

In its 15 December 2016 conclusions, EUCO endorsed the FAC's conclusions of 14 November on implementing the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defence, and welcomed the Commission's proposals on the EDAP. The Commission also invited to make proposals for the establishment of a EDF. In its conclusions of 9 March 2017, EUCO welcomed the Council conclusions of 6 March 2017 including the ongoing work on establishment of a research window with first step of launching the PADR in 2017. On 11 April, the European Commission adopted the decision on the financing of the PADR for 2017. The Financing Decision includes detailed descriptions of three topics/actions for which calls for proposals will be launched: A technological demonstrator for enhanced situational awareness in a naval environment; Research in technology and products in the context of Force Protection and Soldier Systems; Strategic technology foresight.

On 18 May 2017, the Council welcomed the launch of the PADR, including with view to the proposals for an EU defence research programme to be examined under the next MFF. The proposal for this defence research programme will be made in the course of 2018 in order for it to be operational on 1 January 2021. On 31 May 2017, A Delegation Agreement between the Commission and EDA was signed by which the Commission entrusts the EDA with the management and implementation of the research projects to be launched within the PADR. On 7 June 2017, the EDA launched calls for proposals for entities from industry and the research community with a budget of €25 million for 2017.

On 7 June 2017, the Commission presented a Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence which included scenarios for the future of defence, including in research. On the same date, the Commission presented the Communication Launching the EDF together with the Proposal for Regulation establishing the EDIDP, where concrete steps to implement research window are outlined.

According to the EDA, the work programme of PADR for 2018 includes: A high-performance, European, trustable (re)configurable system-on-a-chip; a European high power laser effector; and strategic technology foresight. Their implementation will be through grants and the calls for proposals were published on 15 March 2018. On 19 March 2019, the EDA published three more calls for proposals for the PADR relating to electromagnetic dominance, disruptive technologies and unmanned systems.

The 17 June 2019 Council conclusions welcome the progress in implementing the PADR, its work programme for 2019 and call for proposals.


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Author: Tania Latici, Members' Research Service,

As of 20/11/2019.