The public platform Open Security Data Europe has been updated to include recent funding information from the European Defence Fund, the EU weapons development fund, and Horizon Europe, the EU’s flagship civilian research and innovation funding program. Open Security Data Europe gives a unique overview of which companies, research centres and public agencies receive EU funding for military and security projects. Furthermore, the platform allows users to search by topic, call, type of technologies or tags across all funds simultaneously, giving journalists and researchers a more complete means to access information.

The 2023 update of Open Security Data Europe shows that a limited number of large arms companies and countries particularly benefit from the European Defence Fund (EDF). Fifteen companies and research centres out of 690 beneficiaries account for 45% of the budget allocated for the EDF 2021 call. Four members of a ‘Group of Personalities’ charged in 2016 with advising the European Commission on setting up the fund – Leonardo, Airbus, Indra and Saab – each receive tens of millions of euros from it.

The four major European military powers, France, Italy, Spain and Germany, receive two-thirds of the EDF budget allocated in 2021 through their national companies. The funding per beneficiary for the EDF 2021 call only has been made public in June 2023, a clear delay in transparency.(…)

Another concern relates to possible future exports of the technologies being funded. (…) One example case is that of Lynred, the world’s second-largest company in thermal imaging, owned by Thales and Safran. The company is the coordinator of the European Defence Fund project Heroic, funded in 2021 with €18 million to design the next generation of infrared sensors for defence applications. According to news reports, Lynred continued to deliver equipment to Russia after the 2014 embargo, and its thermal sensors have been found on the Ukrainian battlefield. In 2023, Lynred was reported to have also supplied infrared detectors to Moscow via Texel FCG Technology. Texel and its director, Marks Blats, were put on the US Treasury sanctions list this year.

At a time when the arms and security lobby is exerting a growing influence on European policies, it is all the more important to help journalists, researchers and civil society actors to monitor the billions of Euros that the EU is pouring into arms and security industries. The Open Security Data Europe data platform aims to make up for the EU’s shortcomings in terms of transparency and easy access to data, and support journalists and civil society further work in this field.µ

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