Brussels – The European Union's next seven-year budget should allocate a total of 13 billion euros (15.3 billion dollars) for arms research and development to boost the bloc's defence capabilities, the European Commission has proposed.
The funding will go towards the European Defence Fund, which was launched in 2017 as the EU seeks to beef up its defence and security in the face of growing threats, including an increasingly assertive Russia and doubts about the US commitment to NATO under President Donald Trump.
Aims to increase defence capabilities
"What we are proposing will help the EU take its destiny into its own hands," said European Investment Commissioner Jyrki Katainen. "We are taking greater ownership in defending and protecting our citizens."
The fund is meant to cut down on duplication in military research by providing an incentive for member states to pool resources.
The bloc wants this to lead to the development of state-of-the-art technology that is interoperable among EU militaries.
First defence fund in an EU budget
The EU stresses, however, that it is not creating a parallel structure to NATO; rather, the increased defence cooperation is meant to be beneficial to the alliance as well.
Any project will need at least three participants from three different EU member states to get EU funding.
The EU's 2021-2027 budget will be the first time that the bloc is including the defence fund in its long-term financial planning.
In the current seven-year budget running until the end of 2020, the bloc is set to allocate a total of 590 million euros for the defence fund, with 90 million euros of funding for 2017-2019 and 500 million euros for 2019-2020.
The commission's proposal will now need to be approved by EU member states and the European Parliament – a process that has been historically acrimonious and long.