Written answers

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Department of Defence

Common Security and Defence Policy

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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56. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the position regarding the approval of EU funds for the European Defence Fund. [25128/21]

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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58. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the analysis his Department has carried out into the expected cost to the Exchequer associated with Ireland’s involvement in the European Defence Fund; if he has raised any concerns with his EU counterparts over the spending of EU funding through the EDF on military research and development projects, and the implications of same for Ireland’s stated policy of neutrality; the checks and balances that are in place at EU level with regard to ensuring transparency in decisions on financial allocations under the EDF; the role, if any, his Department will play in the functioning or administration of the EDF; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25091/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 58 together.

The European Defence Fund (EDF) is an industrial sectorial programme, providing funding for research and capability development, which supports the European Defence and Industrial Technology Base in delivering capabilities for Common Security Defence Policy operations. In that regard, it is similar to other EU industry and research support programmes, such as Horizon 2020 also funded from the MFF.

The EDF provides a financial mechanism designed to enable and accelerate cooperation among Member States to better coordinate, supplement and amplify national investments in defence. Through the co-funded European Defence Fund, Member States will be able to achieve greater output and develop defence technology and equipment that may not be feasible on their own, by pooling national resources. The Fund will also foster innovation and allow economies of scale, which will enhance the competitiveness of the EU defence industry.

The Regulation establishing the European Defence Fund was adopted on the 29 April 2021. In relation to transparency on funding allocation this is fully explained in Chapter III of the Regulation "Eligibility Conditions, Award Criteria and Financing". Participation in the EDF does not broker any consideration or obligation in respect of a common or mutual defence commitment or participation in a military defence alliance. As such, participation in the EDF will not compromise Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality.

The Fund will be divided into two windows, which are complementary - the Research Window and the Capability Window. As part of the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 a final budget which translates into a current value of just under €8 billion was agreed in July 2020. It will be split between a research budget of €2.651 billion, and a capability budget of €5,302 billion. EU Budget revenue is general, and is not assigned to any particular fund. As such, the European Defence Fund (EDF) does not have a defined cost to the Exchequer; rather, Ireland’s contributions go into the general pool of revenue that funds all EU budget expenditure, including the EDF. The EDF is encompassed within the funding being provided for the MFF which is funded directly by the Exchequer. As such, no charge arises for my Department's Vote as a result of the establishment of the EDF.

My Department attends the EDF Expert Group Meetings, which will shortly progress to the Programme Committee Group meetings now that the Regulation has been adopted. We have also worked with a number of like-minded EU Member States to ensure that optimal conditions exist within the instrument for national SMEs to avail of funding.

My Department has no role in administering the EDF; that is the function of the EU Commission's Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space (DEFIS).


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