European Union External Action

EU budget 2021-2027 invests more and better in external action, security and defence

02/05/2018 - 17:18
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The European Commission on 2 May presented its proposal for the next EU budget. The proposal responds to the challenge of the Brexit budget hole as well as rising expectations for the EU to play a greater role in providing security and stability in an unstable world.

EU budget, MFF, external instruments, foreign policy, security, defence, humanitarian, development, migration, Erasmus

The EU budget helps the Union to implement its priorities globally, to rise to the challenges and opportunities and to promote its interests in the world, including through security operations and multilateral solutions.

The new proposed budget reflects the EU's updated priorities, with increased funding for research and innovation, for youth (including a doubling of the budget for Erasmus +), for climate and environment, for managing migration and integration.

The proposal foresees an increase of investment in external actions up to 26% to reach €123 billion in the future long-term EU budget, along with a major restructuring of the EU’s external action instruments to provide better coherence, build on cooperation effectiveness, simplify processes and use economies of scale.


EU budget, MFF, external instruments, enlargement, humanitarian, development cooperation


Then, the EU budget for security and defence will be significantly reinforced to €27.5 billion. This includes a 22 fold increase in EU investment in defence spending.

A budget of €13 billion (over the 7 years period) would be dedicated to the European Defence Fund. This will place the EU among the top 4 of defence research and technology investors in Europe. The European Defence Fund will promote cooperation and cost savings among Member States in producing state-of-the-art and interoperable defence technology and equipment. Offering support for the research and development parts of the lifecycle will make sure that the results of research are not lost due to the lack of funding for developing and testing the technology. It will also avoid duplication, allow for economies of scale and result in a more efficient use of taxpayers’ money. The fund will encourage the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in collaborative projects.


EU budget, MFF, security, defence, EDF, Peace Facility


In addition, the Commission proposes that the Union enhance its strategic transport infrastructures to make them fit for military mobility. A dedicated budget of €6.5 billion will be earmarked in the Connecting Europe Facility.

Ensuring close links between the European Defence Fund and the projects implemented within the framework of the Permanent Structured Cooperation in defence (PESCO). If eligible, PESCO projects will receive additional co-funding (30 % rather than 20 %), but funding is not exclusive or automatic.

Supporting other defence-related activities through the European Peace Facility, an off-budget instrument proposed outside the Multiannual Financial Framework. The facility will aim to:

  • Increase the EU’s support to peace operations by third parties worldwide;
  • Cover joint costs of Common Security and Defence Policy military missions (now covered under the Athena mechanism);
  • Enable the EU to engage in broader actions aimed at supporting non-EU countries’ armed forces with infrastructure, equipment and supplies or military technical assistance.