The Committee decided to retain these items under scrutiny and wrote a letter to the Rt Hon Earl Howe, Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, requesting further information on a number of issues:
- The Government's position on the role the Commission should play in the EDF;
- The UK Government's criteria to define EU undertakings and ways the EDIDP should be opened up to ensure sufficient investment;
- The amendments the UK would like to see, and how the UK will ensure that it will still be able to apply for EDIDP funding after Brexit; and
- What a positive relationship with the EU on the EDF would look like from the Government’s perspective.
On 22 February 2018, the Committee agreed to clear the European Commission's Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence and the Communication on the European Defence Fund from scrutiny.
The Committee retained the Proposal for Regulation on the European Defence Industrial Development Programme under scrutiny, and continues to correspond with the Government on a confidential basis.
On 2 May 2019, the EU External Affairs Sub-Committee considered an update on the Proposal establishing the European Defence Fund.
The Sub-Committee have been holding this proposal under scrutiny since August 2017. The Sub-Committee requested the Minister keep the Committee up to date with progress.
Letter from the Minister
Within his letter dated 28 March 2019, Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, provided the Sub-Committee with the following update:
- The Government confirms that Article 5 on third-country participation in the EDF remains up for discussion. While there is a possibility for an ‘Associate Country’ to participate (a status the UK could potentially seek), participation is currently limited to EFTA members of the EEA (i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The UK Government is encouraged by the fact that a change in Article 5, allowing third countries to seek associate status remains a possibility.
- The Government also has continued concerns about the restrictions and exclusions that the terms of the regulation appear to impose on third-country funding eligibility for research projects and the resulting intellectual property rights. While some concerns have been allayed, these have not disappeared entirely.
- A revised version of the regulation is not expected until the autumn of 2019 at the earliest.
To read the Minister's full update, please read his letter to the Committee dated 28 March 2019 further below.
Letters to the Minister