Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Commission has announced an Action Plan to increase the EU’s defence capabilities by boosting secure space connections and by repelling or harnessing the disruptive potential of technologies.
“The point is to strengthen Europe’s technological edge and support the industrial base”, Commission Executive President Margrethe Vestager explained during a press conference, on Monday.
Some of the goals focus specifically on drone technologies, o the need for space-based secure connectivity and for space traffic management. Space and civil technologies, including cyber, quantum and artificial intelligence also feature in the EU executive plan designed to enhance Europe’s capabilities.The Commission’s Action Plan will also cover measures to increase resilience across connectivity systems to withstand cyber attacks.
“These industries [space and defence] are trying to recover from the crisis, but also to respond to, and shape the acceleration of, the twin green and digital transitions. They are high-tech, employ highly skilled employees and tend to export a large share of their products”, according to Commission mission statement.
Synergies with EU programmes
Both Vestager and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton went on to describe how the intention is to build synergies between existing EU instruments and programmes — Horizon Europe, Digital Europe, the Connecting Europe Facility, the Internal Security Fund, the European Defence Fund (EDF) and the Space programme — in order, for example, to harness the potential of disruptive technologies and put them to a more purposeful use.
The increased size of these investments, to be delivered through a range of EU programmes and instruments, makes it possible to achieve synergies that avoid the risk of duplication and provide more user-friendly opportunities for financing, including grants and public procurement, according to the Commission.
The EDF, an instrument designed to promote defence cooperation among companies and EU member states, will support the initiative. The Fund’s goal is to foster innovation and develop state-of-the-art defence technology and products across the EU.
“The European Defence Fund gives a strong potential for synergies between innovation in space, defence and civil research and innovation. We need this for a number of critical technologies. This plan is a systematic and methodological approach to create synergies”, Vestager tweeted.
The EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework will also include instruments to support this defence venture through investments (InvestEU), regional projects for research, innovation, technologies and SMEs.
Last October, the Council cited the importance of achieving strategic autonomy while preserving an open economy as a key EU objective. Heads of state called for developing EU autonomy in the space sector and a more integrated defence industrial base.
Now, the Commission has commited to carrying out a feasibility study to specify the project’s scope and related costs.