New EU Defence Fund: The Guild welcomes distinction between defence and civil research
On 7 June the European Commission announced the launch of the European Defence Fund, designed to support Member States in strengthening joint defence capabilities.
Apart from improving Europe’s external security, this investment is designed to increase the innovativeness of the European defence industry and compensate for the decrease in military spending of individual European countries in the past years. An important feature of the fund consists of a research programme for defence, for which €500 million per year are planned in the next multiannual EU budget.
The Guild welcomes the EC’s reassurance that the financing of the defence programme will be separate from civil research in FP9 and that it will not endanger its budget. We will monitor carefully the Commission’s undertaking to ensure that defence research and FP9 are aligned in supporting excellent research and innovation. However, we insist that the two are kept separate as they will involve very different conditions for participation, transparency and role of Member States in relation to the funded projects.
The Guild also calls for an enhanced budget for research and innovation in FP9, to go alongside the new commitment to defence research. We must ensure that researchers can develop new knowledge and innovation to address the root causes of insecurity, unrest and strife. EU-funded research and innovation must support ‘human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights’ (Art. 1a, Treaty on European Union, EU), and it must attend to the threats to these fundamental values.