Two recent EU initiatives aim at filling the gaps in European defence research funding: The Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) and the project of a fully-fledged European Defence Research Programme (EDRP) that could follow. The two initiatives build on the recommendations of a Report of the Group of Personalities of January 2016, which highlighted that the PADR and the EDRP should “act as a catalyst for European cooperation in key capability areas, breaking down the barriers and overcoming the disincentives to cooperation that exist today”. ASD welcomes these initiatives as an important token of EU engagement.
The Preparatory Action on Defence Research
The PADR is a small EU-funded programme managed by the European Commission and implemented by the European Defence Agency, aimed at testing the feasibility of EU-funded defence research cooperation. The PADR will run over three years and serve as a test for a full-scale EU defence research programme under the next Multi-Annual Framework (2021-2027). The target total budget for the PADR is €90 million over 2017-2019, starting with €25 million for the Work Programme in 2017 to be implemented through calls for proposals.
The European Defence Research Programme
As part of its Defence Action Plan, the Commission proposed end of 2016 the creation of a European Defence Fund, consisting in a research window and a capability development window. The research window aims at putting defence research on an equal footing with other industrial sectors supported in the next MFF, as defence industries are recognized as an important contributor to the EU’s overall growth and innovation. While the format and governance of this future program are still unclear, the Commission announced in its Defence Action Plan its intention to propose an EDRP with a budget of €500 million per year.
The ASD Defence Research and Technology committee and the Task force on European Defence Research Programme (EDRP) are responsible for these issues.