The European Commission launched a fund on Wednesday to boost Europe's defense capabilities by fostering cooperation among member states on arms research, development and acquisition, cutting down on duplications.
As Europe is seeking to beef up its defense in the face of growing security threats, the fund is meant to provide an incentive for member states to pool resources.
Currently, about 80 per cent of procurement and 90 per cent of research are conducted on a national basis within the EU, the commission said. If member states cooperated on procurement, up to 30 per cent of annual defense expenditures could be saved.
The fund is becoming operational this year on supporting collaborative efforts on research in areas such as electronics, software or robotics.
For 2017, 25 million euros (28 million dollars) have been allocated from the EU budget for research and the figure is expected to rise to 90 million euros in 2018 and 2019. After 2020, the commission recommends increasing the research budget to 500 million euros annually.
The defense fund will also offer co-financing for development of defense capabilities to promote joint procurement.
In 2019 and 2020, the commission wants to see a total of 500 million euros dedicated to incentivize member states to band together on developing prototypes of technology that those countries can later acquire.
The projects will be eligible if they are collaborative and involve cross-border participation of small- and medium-size enterprises.
After 2020, the commission will propose increasing EU funding for development to 1 billion euros per year.