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EU adopts 13 new projects under PESCO defense-cooperation program

New projects adopted under the agreement, which has created tensions between the EU and the U.S., include new aircraft, increased cyberintelligence and capacity building.

By
Christen McCurdy
The European Council Tuesday adopted 13 collaborative projects to enhance the military power of European countries. File Photo by symbiot/Shutterstock
The European Council Tuesday adopted 13 collaborative projects to enhance the military power of European countries. File Photo by symbiot/Shutterstock

Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The European Union this week announced it has adopted 13 new projects under its defense-cooperation scheme, bringing the total number of collaborative projects under the Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defense and Security, or PESCO, to 47.

Five of the new projects, adopted Tuesday by the EU's European Council, focus on training, including areas such as cyber, diving and tactical as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense. Other projects focus on enhancing EU collaborative actions as well as capability development on air, sea and space.

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"[The projects] are good news for the EU at a time when President Macron is calling for the EU to step up its defense efforts and stand on its own feet," Jamie Shea, former deputy assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges at NATO, told Defense News. "They show PESCO is gaining traction in EU capitals and nations are buying in to the long overdue need to pool and share capability programs."

Among the projects approved this week by the council is the creation of electronic warfare capability, funded jointly by Germany and Czechia, to look into improving cooperation between different countries' electronic warfare military systems; development of a new corvette -- a small, maneuverable warship that can be adapted by different tasks and missions -- developed jointly by Italy and France; and the development of airborne electronic attack, an anti-jamming and electronic warfare system, to protect aircraft and drones' software from interference.

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The EU's next seven-year budget has $22 billion earmarked for defense in the 2021-2027 financial period, including $14.3 billion for the European Defense Fund, proposed by the Commission last June and approved by the Parliament in April.

The EDF's funding is broken down into $4.5 billion for research and $9.7 billion for developing military capabilities. Only collaborative projects involving at least three member states or associated countries can receive funding.

The drive to increase defense spending has created tension between the EU and the United States as defense contractors fear they will be shut out of EU projects.

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"In two years time, member states will come back to -- possibly -- new decisions on projects, but these next two years will be dedicated to work full speed on implementation, exactly because we know the test will be on delivery and implementation," Federica Mogherini, the outgoing High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told The Defense Post.

In 2017, the European Council adopted a decision establishing a Permanent Structures Cooperation scheme, an agreement which enables EU member states to collaborate more closely on defense and security.

The first two batches of PESCO projects were adopted earlier this year and 25 EU countries are now participating in the agreement. The participating countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

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