Brussels plans to finance joint EU weapons procurement for the primary time


The European Commission will for the primary time present financing for the joint procurement of weapons by member states to assist their armies restock and enhance navy {hardware} in response to the struggle in Ukraine.

The proposal, unveiled by inside market commissioner Thierry Breton on Tuesday, would give monetary incentives for consortiums of not less than three member states to buy weapons. It seeks to channel the rise in EU defence spending in direction of co-ordinated procurement and to forestall bigger member states from monopolising the continent’s arms firms.

If accredited by member states and EU lawmakers, the €500mn initiative would mark the primary time Brussels has used EU taxpayer cash to fund joint arms procurement.

The proposal follows the EU’s landmark resolution to spend billions of euros to fund weapons provides to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion — shipments which have drained nationwide arms stockpiles.

“Today we are taking a historic step forward in European defence integration,” Breton mentioned. “This initiative will make it possible to replenish part of the stocks following Europe’s united and supportive response by way of transfer of arms to Ukraine.”

He added: “And by contributing with the European budget, we are creating an incentive for member states — many of which have announced a significant increase in defence spending — to buy together. This will make it possible to spend public money better, and to boost our European industrial base.”

The struggle in Ukraine has led to a sea change in EU navy pondering, each when it comes to the perceived Russian menace and in prompting governments to reverse years of defence spending cuts and lift collective budgets by greater than €200bn.

The fee’s proposal would see Brussels reimburse about 10 to fifteen per cent of recent arms’ prices if purchased from an EU defence firm by a bunch of EU states within the two years following February 24 of this 12 months — the day Russian president Vladimir Putin launched his assault on Ukraine — in accordance with a senior EU official with information of the plan.

While officers admit that the €500mn funds will solely stretch to a fraction of budgeted EU defence spending over the subsequent two years, that tranche is envisaged as a primary instalment that could possibly be elevated if the initiative is profitable.

“It’s not a lot. But it is not nothing,” mentioned the senior EU official. “It’s a major breakthrough conceptually, politically and legally . . . but if we want this to be credible then we need a big number.”

Some member states have already mentioned frequent purchases of moveable surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank missiles and artillery beneath the fee initiative, the official added.

The EU has lengthy tried to coerce its members into making joint arms purchases and pooled investments into new weapons programs, in an try to make its members’ armed forces extra appropriate and co-ordinated.

While earlier efforts foundered as governments sought to as a substitute defend their nationwide defence industries or depend on US tools, officers hope the surge in defence spending prompted by the struggle in Ukraine and the menace posed by Russia to the EU’s japanese flank will present important motivation.

In 2020, simply 11 per cent of EU states’ nationwide defence budgets was spent in collaboration with different bloc governments — effectively beneath the 35 per cent goal set by Brussels’ personal European Defence Agency. That has resulted within the EU’s armies utilizing numerous and infrequently incompatible weapons programs.