A high-level group within EU has concluded a year’s work in developing a proposal for how EU could fund defence research.
“FOI has long experience in successful collaboration within EU’s programme for security research and I see real opportunities for us to contribute to a programme focused on defence research,” says Jan-Olof Lind, FOI’s Director General, who welcomes the report’s proposals.
One of the proposals is that a preparatory phase, 2017-2019, would be followed by a full-scale research programme from 2021 onwards. The report considers that this would complement the research that member countries are already doing. Such substantial focused commitments would also contribute to raising Europe’s general levels of competence and autonomy. The full-scale programme would receive up to EUR 500 M annually, which corresponds, for example, to what France and Britain spend each year.
“If the proposals go through, the conditions for European collaboration in defence research would be drastically improved,” considers Jan-Olof Lind. “It would increase the synergies in current EU research, and potentially have a major influence on Europe’s entire innovation and research sector. In that case, FOI has a fantastic journey ahead,” he adds.
The high-level group behind the report included Sweden’s Carl Bildt and Håkan Buskhe, whom FOI have been able to assist directly with supporting material.
The point of departure for the report was EU’s current research framework programme, Horizon 2020. Certain adjustments would be needed to accommodate the particular demands posed by defence work. Among other things, this includes ownership of results and rights of access to them, which member states have a direct interest in applying to their own defence purposes. In addition, other levels of financing are required, since covering 100% of costs is the EU norm for defence research.