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EU set to boost multination defence projects and defence-space links

Joint defence capability projects and multination procurements will be privileged in new ways to boost the European Union's (EU's) defence industrial base and arms exports, said the European Commission. The policy shift, which also targets Europe's defence-in-space ambitions, comprises a 22-page package of measures – dubbed the Commission contribution to European Defence – unveiled by the EU's executive body on 15 February.

“Our priorities in defence, such as reducing Europe's dependencies [on critical technologies], require investment incentives as a game changer,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, when presenting the package to the European Parliament. “It is no longer enough for the member states to go it alone; the EU has to enter the picture,” he added.

The package's goals include boosting investments in co-operative defence research and capabilities development among the EU's member states; promoting more civil-military research synergies; strengthening the EU's security and defence dimensions in space – such as situational awareness and early warning; stronger cybersecurity resilience; and enhancing military mobility across Europe.

The document also targets stronger links between the EU's defence and space sectors. “The idea is to generalise the defence aspect across all our space activities, with an emphasis on dual-use research,” said Breton.

Noting that the EU envisions a future joint space command and joint intelligence, he said the Commission will support development of space defence capabilities via the European Defence Fund (EDF) and related programmes. So far these have allocated EUR130 million (USD147 million) to such projects, including EUR50 million on space- and ground-based navigation warfare surveillance capabilities and satellite anti-jamming technology.

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