Commission unveils significant actions to contribute to European Defence, boost innovation and address strategic dependencies – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is offered to you together with the European Commission.

Today, the Commission is launching a number of Commission-led initiatives in areas crucial to defense and security in the European Union. These include contributions to European defense, covering the full range of issues, from conventional defense industries and equipment on land, sea and air to cyber, hybrid and space threats, military mobility and the urgency of climate change; and a roadmap for critical security and protection technologies. These new initiatives are concrete steps towards a more integrated and competitive European defense market, in particular by strengthening cooperation within the EU, thereby increasing scale, cost-effectiveness and operational efficiency. Announcing today, the Commission is contributing to the preparation of the EU Strategic Compass on Security and Defense.

Using all available means in an ever-evolving geopolitical and technological context, the Commission aims to strengthen the Union’s ability to withstand rapidly changing multi-layered threats.

In particular, the Commission has identified the following key new areas for further strengthening the competitiveness of the European defense market:

  • explore how to further stimulate Member States’ investment in key strategic opportunities and key factors developed and / or purchased in cooperation with the European Union;
  • further stimulate joint procurement of defense capabilities developed in the framework of EU cooperation;
  • call on Member States to continue moving towards streamlined and more convergent arms export control practicesin particular, for defense capabilities developed in the framework of EU cooperation.

Invest in defense research and opportunities and joint procurement

By the end of 2022, the European Defense Fund (EDF) will invest 1.9 billion euros in defense research and capacity development projects. This will launch a key large-scale joint capacity development project while stimulating defense innovation. The Commission will also develop additional incentives to encourage Member States to invest in strategic defense capabilities, in particular when they are developed and / or procured through EU cooperation. In particular, the Commission will examine a number of tools to stimulate joint defense procurement, developed in the framework of EU cooperation, including by proposing value added tax (VAT) waivers, creating new financial solutions and revising the EDF. bonus mechanisms in support of commitments to jointly purchase equipment, service and operate in addition to the joint development of appropriate defense technologies. The Commission will include in the annual single market report a section with observations on developments, barriers and opportunities for multinational defense projects, which is usually published in conjunction with the autumn package of the European Semester.

More generally, the Commission will ensure that other horizontal policies, such as sustainable financing initiatives, remain in line with the EU’s efforts to promote sufficient access to finance and investment for the European defense industry.

Streamlined and more convergent export control practices

While Member States are responsible for issuing licenses for the export of military equipment, the Commission invites them to continue their ongoing work to streamline and gradually converge arms export control practices, especially for those defense capabilities that are developing jointly, particularly in the EU framework. The Commission invites Member States to seek an approach whereby, in principle, they will not restrict each other from exporting to a third country any military equipment and technologies developed in cooperation. This work should ensure that EDF-funded products benefit from adequate and competitive access to international markets without compromising the sovereign decisions of Member States.

Synergies between civilian and defense research and innovation and the reduction of strategic dependencies

The Roadmap for Critical Security and Defense Technologies outlines a way to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of the EU’s security and defense sectors by:

  • inviting Member States to make an active contribution to the establishment of the Critical Technology Observatory currently being set up;
  • promoting dual-use research and innovation at EU level;
  • inviting Member States to develop a coordinated EU-wide approach to critical technologies in the context of the Strategic Compass;
  • support for security and defense innovation and entrepreneurship through a number of new tools (eg incubator, investment mixing mechanism, etc.);
  • establishing, together with the European Defense Agency, an EU defense innovation scheme to bring together their respective efforts under one umbrella;
  • more systematically assess security and protection considerations when implementing and revising existing or developing new EU industrial and trade instruments to reduce strategic dependence.

Another important aspect of the Roadmap is the reduction of identified dependencies in critical technologies and value chains. In this regard, the Commission proposes to include defense considerations in key EU industrial and technological initiatives (eg unions, standards), to protect the EU’s security and defense interests in the procurement of critical infrastructure (particularly in the digital sphere) and to strengthen scrutiny of foreign direct investment. . encouraging all other Member States to establish a national verification mechanism.

Strengthening the defensive dimension of space at EU level

The Commission will also examine how to further enhance the protection of EU space assets, in particular through additional space surveillance and tracking (SST) services and the full use of the potential of the EU industry. This will promote a “dual-use” approach to EU space infrastructure in order to offer new sustainable services that meet the needs of government, including in the field of defense.

The Commission and the High Representative will also consider activating solidarity, mutual assistance and crisis response mechanisms in the event of space attacks or threats to space assets.

Enhancing Europe’s resilience

Finally, the Commission is also fully implementing key European sustainability initiatives. In particular, to counter hybrid threats, the Commission, in cooperation with the High Representative and Member States, will assess baseline indicators of sectoral resilience to identify gaps and needs, as well as steps to address them. Following the adoption of the Strategic Compass, the Commission will contribute to the EU’s future hybrid toolkit and consider identifying experts in relevant policy areas.

In addition, to strengthen cybersecurity and cyber defense, the Commission proposes the Cyber ​​Resilience Act and asks European standardization organizations to develop harmonized standards on cybersecurity and privacy; and together with Member States it will increase preparedness for large-scale cyber incidents. By the end of this year, the Commission, together with the High Representative, proposes to update a joint action plan to increase military mobility in Europe and beyond. Finally, also this year the Commission will take various actions to address climate change related to protection.

The next steps

Thanks to these defense initiatives, the Commission announces actions to be taken and implemented in the coming years. The Commission remains ready to consider further steps in the light of the progress made and the evolution of the threats and challenges facing the Union in the future.

A special session on defense during the informal summit in France on 10 and 11 March 2022 provides an opportunity to discuss these defense initiatives.

College members said:

Ursula von der Leyensaid the chairman of the commission: “Against the background of deepening geopolitical rivalry, the European Union must maintain its technological advantage. It can do this by tackling a wide range of threats, from conventional to hybrid, cyber and space, and can create the necessary scale through collaborative development, collaborative procurement and a convergent approach to exports. In addition to ensuring the security of EU citizens, the European defense sector can help rebuild the economy through positive innovation for civilian use. ”

Executive Vice President for Europe for the Digital Age, Margret Westagersaid: “As more and more civilian technology makes its way into military applications, as well as with existing instruments of cooperation, the EU has everything it takes to become a leader if we act together. We need to bring together our SMEs and innovation capacity from across the Union. A new wave of security and defense technologies must be developed from the outset in cooperation with the EU.

Thierry BretonCommissioner for the Internal Market said: “In the context of the new geopolitics, we need a stronger Europe in defense. Threats to EU security are already not only military in nature, but increasingly becoming hybrid, moving towards cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns that endanger the hearts of our democracies. We need to focus on reducing strategic dependence, supporting innovation in the defense ecosystem, encouraging joint procurement of defense capabilities. We need to protect new contentious areas such as space. And for that, we rely on the industrial defense and aerospace sectors, a high-tech ecosystem that is an important factor in Europe’s strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty. ”


The EU Strategic Compass on Security and Defense is a Council document chaired by High Representative Joseph Barrel, which aims to ensure the common ambitions of Member States to respond to the threats and challenges facing the EU, through specific goals and outcomes for the next 5-10 years. The Council is due to adopt it in March 2022.

The Roadmap for Critical Security and Defense Technologies is in line with the European Council’s request of 25-26 February 2021 to identify ways to step up research, technology and innovation and reduce the EU’s strategic dependence on critical technologies and value chains for security and protection.

Renewing the New Industrial Strategy to 2020: Creating a stronger single market to rebuild Europe in May 2021 confirmed that technological leadership remains a key factor in the EU’s competitiveness and innovation, particularly for critical technologies. The Action Plan of the Commission for the Interaction of Civil, Defense and Space Industries in February 2021 recognizes the growing importance of destructive and enabling technologies emerging in the civilian sphere for Europe’s future security and defense, and the need to promote cross-border improvement and synergies between civilian and defense . technology.

Leave a Comment