The high-level Group of Personalities which was set up by the European Commission published on Tuesday 23.2. a report on research programme related to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The goal is to enhance the military capabilities of the EU member states and the competitiveness and opportunities of European industry.

The Group worked independently from member states and published its report as a result of consultations which took months to complete.

The main task of the Group was to establish vision and clarify the possibilities and measures of CSDP-related research to boost defence cooperation. Alternatives were looked into as to contents of research, governance models and modalities for implementation.

The significance of cooperation, innovations and a broad set of instruments including military capabilities in a changing security environment emerged in the report. In the future, a European defence technological and industrial base (EDTIB) is needed as well as cooperation among member states. This could be supported by an EU-funded research programme by fostering cooperation and aiming at achieving common strategic objectives. Above all, a Preparatory Action (PA) will serve as a tool to meet the challenges in capability development posed by research investments which have declined alongside defence expenditure cuts.

Recommendations in the Report were divided into three categories. The first category comprises principles-related recommendations, in other words cooperation in the field of capabilities, complementarity in view of other research activities, a governance model and cooperation among member states, European industry and research and technology organisations to ensure that research projects would lead to concrete results and products. The second category consists of recommendations on modalities such as participants and contribution to broader discussion about European defence policy. The third category comprises resource-related recommendations and evaluations about budgetary needs for the PA and the ensuing research programme. Sufficient budget to test with the Preparatory Action would be a total of 75-100 million euros for three years, for the follow-on programme at least 3,5 billion euros should be allocated for the period of seven years.

The multinational group comprised 16 high-level representatives from the fields of research and industry as well as politicians. It was chaired by Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Director Teija Tiilikainen of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs was a member. According to Dr Tiilikainen, the proposal the Group put forward on establishing a financial instrument for defence research is a significant step toward a common European defence policy the development of which has been painfully slow in recent years. “The added value of EU-funded defence research is to encourage also EU member states to define their capability needs in closer cooperation with each other”, says Dr Tiilikainen.

The report will provide a basis for drafting a Commission budgetary proposal for a Preparatory Action for the next year’s EU budget. The decision is likely to be taken in December 2016. Preparations will also continue in cooperation among the European Commission, the European Defence Agency (EDA) and member states. The aim is to start a three-year Preparatory Action for a research in 2017. If the programme turns out to be successful a more extensive defence research programme could continue in the 2020s.

The report can be accessed on the EUISS page

For more information, please contact Director Teija Tiilikainen of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, tel. +358 9 432 7701 or Senior Adviser Elina Saarimaa, Ministry of Defence, tel. +358 295 140 352 (available until 2.3.2016 and again after 14.3.2016).