Freedom Must Be Better Armed Than Tyranny: Boosting Research and Industrial Capacity for European Defence

The Russian state is a threat to freedom in Europe and the integrity of the EU. Since 1945 we have relied on the United States to protect freedom on our continent. While it is to be hoped the US will be able to stay involved in the most successful democratic alliance in history, the risk of conflict in Asia, a return to isolationism, or the re-election of Donald Trump is too high for the EU not to develop a defence industrial and technological base (DITB) able to supply Europe’s defence on its own. Such a renewed DITB will furthermore be able to contribute to the collective defence of democracy across the globe and support our friends and allies in the United States and democratic Asia. In the worst case it will allow Europe to defend itself from Russian aggression alone. In the best circumstances it will strengthen the international community of democracies.

This paper finds that developing such capability is well within the capacity of the EU and its member states and proposes a series of measures by which it can be financed. It analyses the composition of the defence budgets of EDA members between 2017 and 2021, and assesses their levels of defence investment, research and development, and “research and technology” (R&T – fundamental technological research that is itself an input to R&D). It identifies gaps and recommends EU policies and instruments to close them.