EU clinches deal on first-ever defense fund

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union announced Monday that an agreement has been reached on setting up the 27-nation bloc’s first ever fund to support defense research and development.

The European Defense Fund will contain around 7.95 billion euros ($9.67 billion) for the 2021-2027 period. Around a third of the money will be used on research projects, with the rest being used to develop the defense technologies.

The agreement must still be rubber-stamped by EU member countries and the European Parliament, and this will depend on the bloc’s long-term budget being finalized. EU leaders reached a political agreement on the budget last week, so the move is likely to be a formality.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said the fund “will enhance the EU’s ability to protect its citizens and make the EU a stronger global actor.”

Around 13 billion euros were originally earmarked for the fund, but the coronavirus pandemic forced a change of priorities and the EU’s entire budget was reshuffled to help fund the recovery.

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