On 7 June 2017, the European Commission adopted a Communication launching the EDF consisting of one 'dimension' for defence research and one for capability development. The Communication was accompanied by a legislative proposal for a Regulation establishing the EDIDP under the capability dimension. 

EDA was involved in the preparatory work for the launch of the EDF, namely in the two precursor programmes which prepared the ground for the two EDF 'dimensions':


  • the 'research dimension' where EDA is managing and implementing the European Commission's Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) from 2017. The agency does so on the basis of a Delegation Agreement signed with the European Commission in May 2017. The PADR was preceded by the Pilot Project (PP), the first EU-funded defence research activity, which was completed in 2019;
  • the 'capability dimension' where the Agency contributed to the EDIDP work programme and supported Member States in preparing the projects they would later propose for EU financial support. In 2019, EDA has also set up an EDIDP/EDF 'Marketplace' to provide Member States with an informal framework for the preparation and consolidation of EDIDP/EDF projects. The Marketplace provided Member States with an opportunity to present and informally exchange on project proposal and ideas in view of the EDIDP/EDF calls.


The final decision on the setting up of the EDF was taken by the Council and the European Parliament in 2019/2020. The Fund started functioning on 1 January 2021 with a total agreed budget of €7.953 billion (in current prices) for the 2021-2027 period. Roughly one third will finance competitive and collaborative defence research projects, through grants, and two-thirds will complement Member States' investment by co-financing the costs for defence capabilities development following the research stage. 

The European Defence Fund (EDF) incentivises and supports collaborative, cross-border research and development in the area of defence. It aims at fostering the competitiveness and innovativeness of contributing to the EU's strategic autonomy. Complementing and amplifying Member States' efforts, EDF promotes cooperation among companies and research actors of all sizes and geographic origin in the EU.

The Fund also triggers cooperative programmes that would not happen without an EU contribution and, by supporting research and development activities, provides the necessary incentives to boost cooperation at each stage of the industrial cycle. 

The Commission is assisted in the establishment of the EDF work programmes and the indicative multi-annual perspective by the Programme Committee, where the Member States sit as members and hold voting rights. The European Defence Agency is invited to provide its views and expertise to the Committee as an observer, as is the European External Action Service. 


EDF actions are implemented in direct management by the Commission, according to EDF Regulation (EU) 2021/697 - Art.8.

In 2022 EDA became eligible as implementing partner for indirect management of EDF actions. Such actions can be entrusted to EDA by the European Commission for example, upon Member States request.

As granting authority, EDA fulfils the following main tasks:

  • Grant Agreement preparation and signature
  • Monitoring Grant Agreement implementation, including the management of the amendments and the approval of reports and deliverables. 
  • Payments to the project coordinator
  • Reporting to the European Commission (DG DEFIS)


Following the signature of a Contribution Agreement in 2022, EDA has been entrusted by the European Commission with the management of two grants from the 2021 EDF calls for proposals.


Following the signature of a Contribution Agreement in 2023, EDA has been trusted by the European Commission with the management of three grants from the 2022 EDF calls for proposals. 

  • EC2