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The EU proposes to strengthen its defense industry to depend less on the United States

Photo: Jean-Francois Badias Associated Press The flags of EU member countries fly in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Olivier Baube – Agence France-Presse in Brussels

11:10 a.m.

  • Europe

The European Commission proposed on Tuesday to drastically strengthen the EU's defense industry in the face of the Russian threat, in order also to make Europeans less dependent on the United States in arms production.

After two years of war in Ukraine and decades of cuts in defense budgets, Europeans must now “shift into higher gear”, European Commissioner Thierry Breton, in charge of defense industries in Brussels, told the press on Tuesday. .

The Commission therefore wants that by 2030, “50% of military equipment” ordered by Member States will be supplied by European industry, said Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager.

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Today, 68% of arms purchases made in the EU for the benefit of Ukraine are made from American manufacturers, Mr. Breton said.

“We must take more responsibility for our own security, while, of course, remaining fully committed to NATO,” said Vestager.

Two years after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Europeans are experiencing the greatest difficulty in delivering the weapons that Kiev continues to demand to confront the Russian forces.

They had promised to provide a million shells by the end of March, but will not be able to do so. A little more than half should be delivered on time.

Two million next year

The European Union will be able to manufacture two million next year, Mr. Breton assured Tuesday. This increase in capacity must now be reproduced for other types of weaponry, according to him. “The objective is to produce better, to produce faster and to produce European,” summarized the former French minister.

The new European defense strategy, presented on Tuesday, will have an initial budget of 1.5 billion euros.

“It’s not a lot of money,” Ms. Vestager admitted. But this sum will serve as an incentive, a bonus for Member States each time they want to pool their resources to acquire or develop arms production in Europe, she added. “The real funding will come from member states,” she added.

EU countries spent 58 billion euros last year to acquire weapons, said the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell. The EU budget will not “replace” national budgets to reach this sum, he stressed.

“European Mechanism”

The goal is to catch up and make European industry as competitive as its American rival. Brussels is therefore offering the 27 a “European mechanism” for arms sales close to the American model.

The United States has a strategic arms reserve allowing it to meet urgent demand. They manufacture a little more than what the arms contract provides for in order to build up this stock which can be mobilized very quickly if necessary and without a call for tenders.

The idea is that in the long term the Europeans will do the same thing by grouping together in groups of five or six to build up a reserve of specific equipment, in order to make European manufacturers as reactive as their American rivals.

Then, we must give visibility to European manufacturers by promoting firm orders over the long term, explained a European official.

The idea would be to reproduce what was done during the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccines, that is to say a framework contract, through which the Commission advances the money, allowing European countries to revive their industry in order to respond to this contract, according to this same official.

The success of this initiative “will now depend enormously on the reaction of member states,” Jan Pie, secretary general of the Association of Security and Defense Industries in Europe, stressed on Tuesday. “Speed ​​and financial resources will be crucial for its implementation,” he continued.

Thierry Breton had at one time mentioned the figure of 100 billion euros to achieve the objectives set, while recognizing on Tuesday that it will still be necessary to “work” to convince Europeans to spend such a sum.

In the meantime, the Commission suggests using revenues generated by frozen Russian assets in Europe to increase this initial budget by €1.5 billion. Some 200 billion euros of Russian assets of the Central Bank of Russia have been frozen in Europe.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116