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EU ministers discuss deployment of drones

Staff writer |
European foreign and defence ministers will discuss how to deploy drones for civilian operations, ranging from disaster prevention to deterring human traffickers on the EU's borders, in a two-day meeting that opens in Brussels.

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The unusually long conclusions of this Defence council will include progress in several areas, according to one diplomat. The text will stress the importance of advancing the development of common European capabilities on drones and air-to-air refueling technologies, thought essential for European air forces in distant operations, reports EurActiv.

Several ideas will be discussed, including developing a specific research 'action' focused on defence, with a different budget line from Horizon 2020, the EU framework programme for research for the 2014-2020 period.

One of the ministers' first objectives will be to make sure that drones can receive EU research funds as dual-use capabilities, meaning that they can be used for civilian and military purposes.

The Commission and some member states intend to push for a clearer budget line for military research, which would include drones. But this option remains controversial.

On November, a meeting of the European Defence Agency steering board, composed of European defence ministers, will address shortfalls in drones development at the EU level "with the objective of laying the foundations for a European solution in the 2020-2025 timeframe," according to a preparatory document for the meeting.

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