Germany, France and Italy signed a deal Monday to start technical work and end their reliance on US- and Israeli-made drones. The project is looking to build a military drone by 2025.
The project would be worth up to $1.2 billion if it gets airborne, officials said after the deal was signed in Brussels.
"The goal of the Euro-drone is that we can decide by ourselves in Europe on what we use it, where we deploy the Euro-drone and how we use it," German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.
"This makes us, the Europeans, independent."
European powers have tried and failed to come up with a common drone project for over a decade, forcing Britain, Italy and France to rely on U.S. Reaper drones. Germany and France also use Israeli-built models.
The European drone will be medium-altitude, long-endurance and designed for intelligence and reconnaissance missions. It will also be able to carry a "variety of payloads," according to a statement after the signing.
Airbus, France's Dassault Aviation and Italy's Alenia Aermacchi are the key drivers of the proposal.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the deal was a "very important step for European cooperation."
A two-year technical assessment will try to find common ground between Germany, France and Italy on operational needs, performance, timing and cost, they said.
Yet the project will likely end the same way most pan-European defense initiative end: compromised, over budget, delayed and lacking world-beating features.