EU to Ramp-Up Ammunition After Agreeing on New Plan! (5.5.2023)

2023-05-05 China Daily Editor:Li Yan

The European Union is moving toward a “war economy” by ramping up production of ammunition across member states and joint procurement of weapons to support Ukraine in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a move that drew sharp criticisms from some lawmakers.

The ambassadors of EU member states in Brussels reached a preliminary agreement on Wednesday on a plan for joint procurement of ammunition and missiles over the next year to the tune of 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), the Swedish presidency of the EU Council announced on Wednesday.

The agreement allows the joint purchase of 155mm caliber artillery rounds and, if requested by Ukraine, it includes missiles “from economic operators established in the European Union or Norway producing these ammunitions and missiles in the European Union and Norway”, according to the document.

The agreement came after weeks of intensive debate among member states on issues such as whether non-EU members should be included in the plan. It will take effect on Friday afternoon if none of the 27 EU member states voice opposition by then.

Also on Wednesday, the European Commission announced 500 million euros from the EU budget to boost ammunition production.

The Act in Support of Ammunition Production, or ASAP, proposed by the commission will be matched with co-financing of around 500 million euros from member states and other sources if they hope to get subsidies from the EU fund.

The goal is to produce 1 million rounds of ammunition within a year.

“This will help supply more ammunition for Ukraine to defend its citizens and it will also strengthen our European defense capacities,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton told a news conference on Wednesday that the European defense industry has to see how it can move into “war economy mode”.

“We are talking about expanding existing production, modernizing production, perhaps creating new production lines and new factories within plants which are already there, and also reconversion of old ammunition plants, which can be adapted to current standards,” said Breton, who just finished a tour of ammunition production facilities in the EU.

Some EU lawmakers have challenged the European Commission for using the EU budget for subsidizing ammunition production.

Martina Michels, a member of the European Parliament from Germany and a member of The Left Party, said the EU’s structural funds are instruments for strategic long-term investment. “They are intended to promote the harmonization of living conditions, while at the same time promoting climate-friendly structural change,” she said.

“Under no circumstances should they be used for armaments. A war economy is neither socially nor ecologically nor economically sustainable,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“So we have the #EU using money from a so-called ‘Peace Facility’ to make sure that Peace doesn’t break out in Ukraine — The money will be used to provide ammunition to keep the War going, which will see more less well-off Ukrainians losing their lives — What has happened to EU …?” Mick Wallace, an Irish MEP, wrote on Twitter in response to a tweet applauding the Wednesday ammunition agreement by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.