Boosted by the current UE’s geopolitical context, this Regulation proposal echoed previous initiatives (the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, the Preparatory Action on Defence Research, and the European Defense Fund) and was shaped to complete them consistently. Those instruments aim to rethink the EU’s defence plans and capacities and enhance responsibility assumptions. The European Council triggered the EDIRPA Regulation initiative last May during the Versailles Declaration dating from 11 March (Informal meeting of the Heads of State or Government Versailles Declaration, 2022).
On 20 July 2022, the European Commission announced that it would grant €1.2 billion to 61 collaborative defence research and development (R&D) projects under the European Defence Fund (EDF). The selected projects focus on a broad range of high-end defence capability development, from next-generation aircraft, ships and tanks to artificial intelligence and cyber capabilities, semiconductors and new materials, and quantum and other potentially disruptive technologies.
As the European Commission’s Vice-President Margaritis Shinas put it in July 2020 when unveiling the European Commission’s new strategy for internal and external security over the next five years, “From protecting our critical infrastructure to fighting cybercrime and countering hybrid threats, we can leave no stone unturned when it comes to our security” (Sánchez Nicolás, 2016). Said new strategy places a particular emphasis on critical infrastructure protection, which plays a crucial role in the realm of the security of the European Union (EU). But what exactly do we mean by ‘critical infrastructure’? Why do we need to develop an effective critical infrastructure protection strategy? And how can defence planners help achieve what European policymakers have not managed so far?