The new European Defence Industrial Development Programme, with a budget of €500m for 2019-2020, was approved by the European Parliament’s Industry and Research Committee on February 21.

EU financial assistance will cover the development of new and upgraded products to make the EU more independent and enhance its capability in the area of defence, according to the legislative resolution that was approved by a majority of MEPs (49 in favour, 12 against).

According to a European Parliament press release, all EU countries will work together to pool resources and spend defence budgets more efficiently.

“Increased EU cooperation in the defence industry will strengthen the competitiveness of the EU defence industry on a global scale,” said rapporteur Françoise Grossetête (EPP, FR) who prepared the legislative resolution. “It will also strengthen our capability to defend our countries and citizens, improve our strategic autonomy, foster innovation and create jobs in Europe”.

Grossetête also confirmed that €500m will be allocated in 2019 and 2020 for the programme. The amount should increase to €1bn per year from 2021 and, in the future, increased pan-EU cooperation in the big weapons systems – aircraft, battle tanks, and navy ships – could and should be foreseen.

“This is a ground-breaking way of thinking in the development of our defence capabilities and it is an important step towards a European Defence Union”, Grossetête said. “We need to have fewer weapons systems in order to maximise our defence collaboration in the field and get the most out of the public money we spend on defence and this is a way to achieve it. The all-European defence technological and industrial base, in particular our SMEs and mid-caps, will benefit from this programme. Excellence and innovation will be the main drivers.”