For European arms-producing countries, launching a cooperative program represents a compromise between preserving their domestic industrial base and achieving an affordable acquisition. Nevertheless, scientific literature is marred with criticisms regarding the effectiveness of such an approach. Paradoxically, this does not prevent European states from committing to new cooperative programs—the European Commission has set up mechanisms for improving the effectiveness of European defense industry based, de facto, on incentives to launch cooperative programs. This article looks at the place of cooperative programs in Europe to understand whether the new initiatives of the European Union can succeed in improving the effectiveness of military spending as well as enhancing European strategic autonomy. It analyzes the organization of the European armament market to explain why cooperative programs appear unavoidable. It explores how the European Commission could overcome current limitations through community-funded programs, given that such funding would foster the emergence of a European defense technological and industrial base.