EDF 2021: 23 calls for proposals for €1.2 billion

The European Commission adopted the first European Defence Fund (EDF) annual work programme.

EU Commission: “Cooperation to Become the Norm”

During the first year, the EDF will co-finance large-scale and complex projects for a total amount of €1.2bn and 23 related calls for proposals for collaborative defence research and development projects.

The EDF has a budget of €7.953 billion, of which one-third will finance competitive and collaborative research projects and two-thirds will complement Member States’ investment by co-financing the costs for defence capabilities development following the research stage.

It is the “first-ever dedicated defence programme”, a statement from the Commission reads, aimed at making cooperation in this area “the norm”.

With the objective of reducing fragmentation of the EU defence capabilities, enhancing competitiveness of the EU defence industry and the interoperability of products and technologies, the 2021 EDF work programme will incentivize, support a number of capability development and standardisation projects

and enhancing competitiveness of the EU defence industry and the interoperability of products and technologies.

To finance this ambitious roll-out, the 2021 EDF budget of €930m has been complemented with a ‘top-up’ of €290m from the 2022 EDF budget.

In the first year, the EDF will allocate around €700m to the preparation of large-scale and complex defence platforms and systems such as next generation fighter systems or ground vehicles fleet, digital and modular ships, and ballistic missile defence, and around €100 million to critical technologies which will enhance the performance and resilience of defence equipment such as artificial intelligence and cloud for military operations, semiconductors in the field of infrared and radiofrequency components. It will also foster game-changing innovations, notably in quantum technologies, additive manufacturing and over the horizon radar, and tap into promising SMEs and start-ups.

The EDF will also increase synergies with other civilian EU policies and programmes, notably in the field of space (around €50m), medical response (around €70m), and digital and cyber (around €100m). 30% of funding will be allocated to SMEs. The Fund will spearhead innovation through more than €120m allocated to disruptive technologies and specific open calls for SMEs.

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