The current negotiations regarding a proposal for the European Defence Fund (EDF) are the result of progressive steps in recent years. In December 2013, the decision by the European Council regarding the strengthening of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) laid the foundations for an increased engagement of the EU and the European Commission (EC) respectively in the field of defence research. In 2016 this was followed up by the EU Global Strategy (EUGS) and the European Defence Action Plan (EDAP).

Amongst other issues, it was further decided to set up a Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR), in preparation of a European Defence Research Programme (EDRP) within the EU budget, and a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP). While the first call for proposals for PADR was issued in 2017, the first EDIDP work programme for 2019 is currently being developed. Both programmes are set up to run until 2020 and represent lead programmes for the EDF that will be launched in 2021.

Instead of separate EDRP and EDIDP programmes, the EC proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 of 2 May 2018 and its proposal for the EDF of 13 June 2018 outline an integration of the two programmes in one comprehensive instrument, which is the Fund itself with a proposed budget of €13 bn. While the Fund provides one overarching programme encompassing the whole defence industrial cycle, specific parts of the budget are earmarked for research, development and acquisition. In addition to the funding for research and development, the EDF will comprise a “Financial Toolbox”. This toolbox is a set of standardised instruments supporting collaborative procurement projects of the Member States. For further information on the EDF, PADR and EDIDP, as well as related Austrian activities, please refer to the respective sub-items.