The European Commission is expected to unveil its biggest defense research plan in over a decade on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
The plan entails the creation of a dedicated financial instrument to support defense research. Brussels will seek to lift a ban on funding defense research directly from the EU budget. Military research funding has declined by more than 30% in Europe since 2006.
The plan has the backing of Germany and France and could be operational by 2017 and scaled up if governments agree to authorize the European Investment Bank and the European Commission to finance such projects.
The idea is to move from a €90 million a year budget for pilot projects from 2017 to 2019 and move to a €3.5 bn during the 2021-2027 period.
France, Germany, and Italy see research cooperation as a dimension of deeper security cooperation to underpin the European Defense Union that Britain traditionally opposed. It is unclear whether the EU will still seek to engage the U.K in defense cooperation after it leaves the EU.