European Union External Action

#EUDefence and Security Spring Series: Why money matters

15/05/2019 - 11:45
News stories

Reinforced defence cooperation amongst the EU's Member States has become a priority in the current security environment. This is also about money, as the lack of cooperation in the field of security and defence comes with a luxury price tag: between 25 and 100 billion euro per year. More coordination at EU level would not only strengthen our capacity as Europeans to protect Europe and European citizens – it would also save billions of taxpayers' money and make the European defence industry more competitive.

#EUDefence and Security


No EU Member State can tackle today's security challenges alone. The EU and its Member States have stepped up their joint work on security and defence to better protect European citizens. One essential element to foster closer cooperation is appropriate funding to support joint initiatives. A European Defence Fund was therefore unveiled to boost research and spend more efficiently on joint defence capabilities. In addition, a European Peace Facility was proposed to be put in place from 2020 to support – amongst other things – joint EU military missions and operations.

As a matter of fact: when it comes to defence, money matters. Lack of cooperation in this domain leads to significant inefficiencies and fragmentation. Around 80% of defence procurement is currently run on a purely national basis, leading to a costly duplication of military capabilities. Estimates have shown that EU Member States could save between 20 and 100 billion euro per year depending on the degree to which they will enter into closer cooperation.


EU-US military spending and weapons systems


The European Defence Fund – launched in 2017 – is one of the instruments helping to address the situation. It aims at supporting research and development, making the European defence industry more innovative, competitive on the global scene and ultimately better able to serve Europe's security needs. By pooling resources, EU Member States will also getter better value for their investment and reach better results.

To achieve these ambitions, the European Defence Fund includes a ‘research window’ to fund collaborative research in innovative defence technologies such as electronics, metamaterials, encrypted software or robotics. The budget allocation totals € 90 million until 2020. In addition a “capability” or “development” window acts as a financial tool allowing participating Member States to purchase certain assets together to reduce their costs. The total budget proposed for the European Defence Fund in the post-2020 multiannual financial framework is € 13 billion.

European Defence Fund budget

In addition and in a much wider context, a European Peace Facility has been proposed. The EU Treaty does not allow for the Union’s budget to finance expenditure with military or defence implications. Until now, EU military CSDP missions and operations have been financed exclusively through a special mechanism (the “Athena “mechanism) and support to partners’ military peace support operations has been limited to African-led operations through the African Peace Facility.

The European Peace Facility will address the current limitations. The objective of the mechanism is to close existing gaps in the EU’s toolbox, enabling the EU to do more and to act more swiftly. In this manner, the European Peace Facility will maximise the impact, effectiveness and sustainability of overall EU external action for peace and security.

With a proposed value of €10.5 billion for a seven year period from 2020, the EPF will ensure that EU funding is available on a permanent basis, while allowing for rapid crisis response and provision of other urgent assistance. It will cover funding of the common costs of EU military operations and missions and allow support to partners on a global level. Capacity building activities for military actors, and the provision of training, equipment and infrastructure will be enabled. This will allow the EU to build up the capacity of partners to address crises, prevent conflict and build stability by themselves.


European Peace Facility


Both financial instruments will contribute to strengthening the EU's capacity to protect Europe and its citizens in line with the objectives of the EU Global Strategy presented by HRVP Mogherini in 2016. They will also further boost Europe's role as a global security provider in full complementarity and close cooperation with partners and other organisations such as NATO.


#EUDefence and Security Spring Series