The French, German, Spanish and Italian defense ministers have sought an "ambitious" European Defense Fund (EDF), control over key technologies and production capabilities, including military ones in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
"We advocate an ambitious EDF budget as a priority in the defense area and a swift adoption of the EDF regulation, in full respect of the discussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework. The EDF will contribute to supporting the European economy, especially small and medium-sized enterprises(SMEs)," the ministers said in a letter.
The four signatories- Florence Parly (France), Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (Germany), Margarita Robles Fernández (Spain) and Lorenzo Guerini (Italy)- said in a letter to their counterparts in the 23 other European Union member states, as well as to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.
This implies the reduction of dependencies, filtering of foreign direct investments, support for disruptive technologies, strengthening of synergies between defense and civil industries and enhanced use of financial tools, the letter, released by the French MoD said.
“In the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the four ministers wished to reaffirm their commitment to enhanced European security and defense cooperation, and to share their common reflections to move towards a more Europe united, resilient and sovereign,” a statement by French MoD read.
The leaders said they also aim to counter hybrid-, disinformation- or cyberattacks, improve and secure communication networks of the European Institutions and the Member States as well as their cyber-interoperability, security and resilience, as stated by the European Council in June 2019. “In particular, the possibility to communicate in a classified environment has to be enhanced,” the letter said.
In the recent weeks, several supercomputers in European educational research institutes, including ones studying COVID-19 virus, have been attacked by cyber criminals.
The selection process of new projects as well as the assessment of the on-going ones will updated and sharpened, in close coordination with Member States. Projects not delivering as expected will be either revived or terminated.