Complementing and amplifying Member States’ efforts, the Fund promotes cooperation among companies and research actors of all sizes and geographic origin in the Union, in research and development of state-of-the-art and interoperable defence technology and equipment. The Fund supports competitive and collaborative projects throughout the entire cycle of research and development for a bigger impact on the European defence capability and industrial landscape.
It strongly encourages participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in collaborative projects and fosters breakthrough innovative solutions.
A budget of close to €8 billion for 2021-2027 is dedicated to the European Defence Fund. €2.7 billion to fund collaborative defence research and €5.3 billion euros to fund collaborative capability development projects complementing national contributions.
The EDF is implemented through annual work programmes structured along 17 thematic and horizontal categories of actions, which have been shaped to remain stable during the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
With a total budget of about €924 million, the 2022 EDF calls for proposals, covering 33 topics, are expected to be published on the European Commission Funding & Tenders opportunities website by 9 June 2022. In the meantime, a description of the topics that will be addressed in these calls can be found below documentation.
Documents of the Work Programme
With a total budget of €1.2 billion, the 2021 EDF calls for proposals were published on 30 June 2021. The deadline for submission of proposals was 9 December 2021. The Commission, assisted by independent experts, is currently evaluating the submitted proposals in view of signing the grant agreements by the end of 2022.
EDF Guide for Applicants: Read about the EDF 2021 calls documentation, submission forms and guidance.
Documents of the Work Programme
In view of easing coordination between stakeholders, readiness and predictability over the years, an indicative EDF multiannual perspective has been released. It gives an overview of the main expected outcomes per category of actions for the period 2021-2027. This multiannual perspective may be subject to annual updates.
Calls for proposals will be launched on an annual basis following the adoption of the corresponding annual work programme.
Under the EDF, the EU is providing financial support, mainly through grants, to collaborative R&D projects in the field of defence. The EDF can support 100 % of the total eligible costs of a research action, while the EDF support to a development action may vary between 20% and 100% of its total eligible costs depending on the activities covered (e.g. design, prototyping, testing, qualification, certification) and on a bonus system (involvement of SMEs and mid-caps and link with a PESCO project).
- Incentives (SMEs, mid-caps, PESCO):
With an aim to achieve the EDF goals and promote cooperation in the defence domain, special incentives have been introduced in the EDF Regulation.
Some of these incentives favour the involvement of (cross-border) SMEs and mid-caps in the projects: their qualitative and quantitative participation is assessed as part of the award criteria and an increased funding rate (bonus) is offered if the costs allocated to SMEs or mid-caps are above a given threshold. In addition, every year, two “open” calls are specifically targeting SMEs, which will also be offered business coaching.
An increased funding rate is also offered to projects developed in the context of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).
Only collaborative projects, involving at least three eligible entities from at least three Member States or associated countries, may be eligible to EDF funding. Calls dedicated to disruptive technologies can accommodate smaller consortia (at least two eligible entities from at least two Member States or associated countries). Norway is the only associated country having opting in for the EDF.
In order to be eligible to EDF funding, recipients and subcontractors involved in the action must be established in the EU, have their executive management structure in the EU and must not be subject to control by a non-associated third country or by a non-associated third-country entity. Regarding this last point, a derogation exists if guaranties approved by the Member State or associated country where the entity is established and substantiating that security-based conditions are met, are provided to the Commission.
The participation to an EDF project of entities established in non-associated third countries is possible but subject to conditions defined to ensure the security and defence interests of the EU and its Member States. They also guarantee the freedom of action of Member States in the use and export of resulting defence equipment. Such entities cannot receive EDF funding.
- Implementation and governance:
The Programme is implemented directly by the Commission. In duly justified cases and in line with the EDF Regulation, the management of a grant can be delegated to an entrusted entity.
The EDF annual work programmes are defined in close cooperation with Member States representatives within the EDF Programme Committee, including the involvement of the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European External Action Service (EEAS). Identified priorities are aiming at contributing to the security and defence interests of the Union, in line with defence capability priorities agreed by Member States within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and particularly in the context of the Capability Development Plan (CDP), and taking into account, where appropriate, regional priorities and priorities from and international organisations (NATO).
The categories of actions structuring the annual work programmes have been designed to cover all military domains and key enabling technologies. Funded projects should enable the European Commission to respond to the needs of Member States while targeting critical capabilities that are essential for the future.
European Defence Fund National Focal Points (NFPs)
What are European Defence Fund National Focal Points?
The National Focal Points are individuals nominated by EU Member States and countries associated to the European Defence Fund (Norway) that are supported by national structures established under the responsibility and control of the Member States and Norway.
NFPs will support the implementation of the European Defence Fund: working closely with DG DEFIS they will reach out to stakeholders, notably applicants and potential applicants, provide information and advice to potential applicants and beneficiaries of the EDF programme and assist in building partnerships, throughout the EDF life cycle.
- The European Defence Fund (EDF) on the Funding & Tenders Portal: Funding & tenders (europa.eu)
- EU Defence Innovation Scheme Webpage
- EDF Regulation on EU-LEX: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2021/697/oj
- Network of European Defence Fund National Focal Points