If the EU is to fund military research, both regulations and funding streams will need to change, says John Donovan.
The times, they are a-changin’, as the song says. There is a growing swell of opinion that Europe must take greater responsibility for its own defence. Besides the general advantages of cooperation in a complex and interconnected world, the situation in Ukraine, increasing Russian activity on the borders of the Baltic member states, and United States president Donald Trump’s on-off reflections on the continuing relevance of Nato all make for a very nervous environment.
From the first days of his tenure, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has indicated that defence and defence collaboration are important issues. But the UK’s determination to resist any expansion of EU responsibilities in these areas meant that defence and defence-related R&D didn’t have much impact on the consciousness of the European researcher, let alone the European citizen.