It is the biggest defence funding and research plan in more than a decade. The European Union has unveiled proposals, which reverse billions in cuts and send a message to the US that the bloc wants to stand on its own two feet when paying for security.
“If the Europeans will manage to invest better on their defence, this is also going to make NATO stronger. So there’s no competition, no duplication,” explained top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini.
“On the contrary, there is a joint work we are doing. Member states are, all 28, fully on board of this.”
The European Commission plans a five billion euro fund to let governments club together to buy new helicopters and planes.
Another plan is to let the EU’s common budget and its development bank invest in military research. This will open the door to new drones, cyber warfare systems and other hi-tech gear, according to officials.
“All the member states are using their public resources to defence research separately. Private sector is using their limited resources separately. And that is the reason why we cannot develop equipment as much as there is a need,” said European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen.
The Commission says it is time to lift restrictions on using its budget for military research – proposing 500 million euros a year could be spent on innovation from 2017.
A 90 million pilot plan is set to start next year, with 3.5 billion potentially allocated from 2021 to 2027.
Amid falling spending on defence research, EU governments have increasingly relied on America.
It is too early to tell if Brexit Britain could, and would want to be involved in the new European plan.