Access to EU funding

May 11, 2016

Start Date2013
Type of activity: workstrand
Participating Countries: All
Other partners: n/a

The December 2013 European Council stressed that the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) should be strengthened and invited the Commission (EC) and the EDA to work closely with Member States to stimulate dual-use research. The Council also encouraged strong involvement of SMEs in future EU funding programmes.

In May 2015, the Foreign Affairs Council reiterated the need to maximise dual-use synergies in R&T and invited to promote that relevant EU funding mechanisms are made more accessible to the defence industry.

In June 2015, the European Council recalled the need for fostering greater and more systematic European defence cooperation to deliver key capabilities, including through EU funds.

To this end, EDA has been raising awareness, transferring know-how and building capacity across the EDTIB on how to access to EU funding opportunities, with particular regard to European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and the new EU COSME (Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs) Programme.

Workstrand goals

  • In view of raising awareness, transferring know-how and building capacity in relation to EU funding sources, the EDA is:
    • Delivering “Access to EU funding” seminars in Member States;
    • Organising workshops, trainings, presentations, etc.;
    • Selecting dual-use projects and providing them with technical assistance, thus maximising their chance to access ESIF grants, either at national or transnational level and particularly from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF, by also encompassing its Interreg share supporting European territorial Cooperation) and the European Social Fund (ESF);
    • Developing methodologies (diffused by either printed or online tables / handbooks / dynamic web-platforms) on how to access EU funding in support of defence-related industry and other stakeholders;
    • Exploring, promoting and facilitating the Enterprise Europe Network’s (EEN) hundreds contact points to provide , free-of-charge, advise and support (e.g. information and support in accessing markets/funding) for SMEs having both civilian and defence activities;
    • Targeting access to finance (long-term loans, equity co-investment) for defence-related SMEs;
    • Coordinating its work on access to EU funding with the European Commission.

Detailed description

Over the last decade, national defence budgets in most EU Member States have been negatively and strongly affecting the solidity of the EDTIB. EU funding sources, though only competitively accessed, can alleviate this problem by providing defence-related stakeholders in Member States with new opportunities.

From 2013 to 2015, EDA has been raising awareness on such opportunities by delivering 12 ESIF seminars in Member States (BG, CZ, EL, FI, IE, HR, HU, IT, LV, PL, PT, RO), including concrete coaching sessions (which have been representing an effective local learning process on how to actually prepare and submit an ESIF proposal). Through high-level roundtables, ESIF seminars have also been supporting dialogue and contacts between Ministries of Defence (MoDs) and national/regional ESIF Managing Authorities and contributing to the establishment of a new mindset for reciprocal cooperation. As a result, in some regions, MoDs’ experts and dual-use priorities have been integrated in the definition of the local R&T+I Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3).

Taking also into account workshops and training delivered at EDA premises, about 1300 defence-related experts (from MoDs, SMEs, universities, research and technology organisations, etc.) benefitted from EDA events on ESIF.

EDA has also been selecting dual-use projects to provide with free high-level technical assistance in order to maximise their chance to access ESIF grants. A first 2014 pilot procedure successfully resulted in one Portuguese project being 60% co-funded by the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF - one out of the five ESI Funds). A second successful project has been awarded in 2016 with almost 80% co-funding by a Polish ERDF national Managing Authority. 

EDA has also published a handbook providing a step-by-step guidance to defence stakeholders on how to apply for ESIF.

Since 2015, to further and extensively validate its successful methodology within the ESIF multiannual financial framework running till 2020, EDA is, based on a specific “ESIF Request for Projects” procedure, supporting access to ESIF for 30 dual-use R&T projects in 16 EDA participating Member States, and within 22 predefined priority areas. Like in the former pilot procedure, it specifically targeted the ERDF. Under above 2015 procedure, the first project assessed by an ESIF Managing Authority has been funded (and an MOD has been directly co-funded too, as official Partner of the awarded consortium).

Since 2016 EDA is also assisting MoDs to develop cooperative dual-use projects in the field of maritime security (thereby also supporting the EUMSS Action Plan), in order to provide them with technical support to apply for ESIF Transnational (“Interreg V.B”) co-funding.

Through a dedicated study on the EU COSME Programme (2014-2020) EDA has explored in 2016 the opportunities provided by this new EU instrument. The study assessed potential restrictions for defence-related SMEs and cluster organisations to access to COSME finance (long term loans and equity investments), COSME-funded advisory services on EU market opportunities (through the EC’s Enterprise Europe Network - EEN) and COSME grants for cross-border cluster partnerships. Based on the outcome of this study, EDA is working on new initiatives in support of defence-related SMEs.

Since 2016, EDA is delivering more comprehensive “EU funding” seminars in Member States (CY, ES, AT), by addressing at least both ESIF and COSME opportunities for all defence-related stakeholders.




Participating Member States

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • France
  • Croatia
  • Italy
  • Cyprus
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • UK