The European Commission Director-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Lowri Evans, and the Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA), Jorge Domecq, today signed a Delegation Agreement by which the Commission entrusts the EDA with the management of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) to be launched in early June. The signing was attended by Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Deputy Director General Pierre Delsaux (DG GROW) as well as Jean-Eric Paquet, the Commission's Deputy Secretary-General.
The aim of the Preparatory Action, which is the first substantial EU funded action for defence research, is to demonstrate the added-value of EU-funded research in the defence sector. Running over a three-year period (2017-2019), the PADR will be a genuine test-bed for proving the relevance of European defence research and laying the foundations for a fully-fledged EU defence R&D programme in the Multi-annual Financial Framework beginning in 2021. It is a central element of the ‘Research Window’ of the European Defence Fund proposed by the Commission last November.
The PADR will provide European added value as the research projects will focus on capability priorities at European level, notably through the Capability Development Plan (CDP), and on areas where Member States can no longer afford to act alone. Thereby, it will also create new incentives for cooperation both among governments and industry.
At the signing ceremony, Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska stated: “The Commission is ready to play its role to the full and to even put EU funds and legal frameworks to support defence research and defence capabilities. This is potentially a game changer. However, to achieve this we need the expertise of the EDA. Together we can make a real difference. This partnership will continue to be important as we build the Defence Fund with the implementation of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme”.
EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq thanked the Commission for making the Delegation Agreement possible and said the EDA was looking forward to a good and fruitful implementation. He stated: “Our work in carrying forward the Preparatory Action will be in line with EDA’s role as central operator for EU funded defence related activities as well as the preferred cooperation forum and management support structure at EU level for participating Member States to engage in technology and capability development activities, highlighted at EDA’s last Ministerial Steering Board. I am proud we have successfully achieved this agreement which lays the basis for a sound and fruitful cooperation between the Commission and EDA for the years to come. It is a balanced Delegation Agreement in which the Commission and EDA will be genuine partners. The Preparatory Action on Defence Research will be the test bed for the coming European Defence Research Programme”.
Foundations laid by successful Pilot Project
The foundations for the Preparatory Action were laid last year with the successful launch of a much smaller ‘Pilot Project on Defence Research’ which is also managed by the EDA on the basis of a Delegation Agreement signed in November 2015. The Pilot Project was a first opportunity for the EDA to demonstrate its ability to manage EU funding for defence research.
Mr Domecq stressed that the Agency was now ready and well prepared to run the much bigger PADR with its €90 million budget of which €25 million are earmarked for 2017.
The EDA played an important ‘upstream role’ in setting up the Preparatory Action and will also have a crucial ‘downstream’ task to fulfil, as a hub for the exploitation of the outcome of the different R&T projects under the PADR.
Now that the Delegation Agreement is signed, the EDA will immediately proceed with its implementation. The first step will be the launch, on 7 June, of the 2017 calls for proposals. An Information Day is then scheduled for 27 June in order to inform entities from industry and the research community (including universities) about the opportunities and modalities of the Preparatory Action. Proposals can be submitted by the autumn and the signature of the first grant agreements is envisaged by the end of this year. Calls for 2018 proposals are expected to be launched early next year.