Seven countries want to build a European drone
Defence ministers meeting in Brussels instructed the European Defence Agency (EDA), the European Union's defence arm, to start studying the military requirements and costs of a future EU surveillance drone that could be produced after 2020.
The United States has used drones to kill suspected militants in countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan, causing intense controversy about sovereignty and civilian casualties. But drones also have a wide range of civilian uses, including border control, firefighting and disaster monitoring.
A factsheet from EDA, which groups all 28 EU states apart from Denmark, said "beyond 2020" seemed a reasonable timeframe to produce a European medium altitude, long endurance drone.
Seven European countries – France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland and Spain – have signed an agreement to invest jointly in research into various drone components, including collision avoidance technology and automatic take-off and landing.
Another group made up of Austria, Belgium, Britain, and the Czech Republic have declared themselves ready to invest in the technologies without committing to a joint production programme, French daily Le Monde reported. ■