Sophia Besch, King’s College London

The European Defence Fund

In 2020, EU member-states allocated €7 billion out of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the “Defence Fund”, an EU Commission initiative to use EU budget money to support defence industrial cooperation. The Fund represents a departure in a particularly “sovereign” policy area that does not traditionally allow much EU influence; it creates a new institutional venue for defence industrial cooperation, when other venues with experience and institutional capacity already actively dealt with the issue; and it breaks with a long-standing ethical and legal taboo not to spend EU money on defence. This thesis aims to answer the question how the decision to establish the Defence Fund was made. It is embedded in the tension between the supranationalist and the liberal intergovernmentalist accounts of who drives European integration, and pays particular attention to how national and supranational public and private actors interacted in the process of launching an unlikely Commission-led initiative in an intergovernmental policy field.