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05 Mar 2024

EU to propose switching European arms industry to 'war economy mode: Reuters

EU to propose switching European arms industry to 'war economy mode: Reuters
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Originally posted on Reuters - By Andrew Gray

The European Commission on March 5 will propose ways to boost the European defense industry and shift it to a "war economy mode" in response to Russia's war on Ukraine, Reuters reported, citing EU officials.

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton will present specific proposals to the bloc's members to jointly buy from European arms companies and increase the production capacities of these firms, according to the officials.

The news comes amid worries on the old continent that the U.S. may not be a reliable partner for European security and in backing Ukraine if Donald Trump wins the upcoming presidential election.

"We need to change the paradigm and move into war economy mode. This also means that the European defense industry must take more risks, with our support," Breton commented.

"In the current geopolitical context, Europe must take greater responsibility for its own security, regardless of the outcome of our allies' elections every four years."

Trump sparked outrage at home and abroad when he said he would encourage Russia to do "whatever the hell they want" to NATO members who do not reach the 2% defense spending mark.

While U.S. President Joe Biden called Trump's remarks "dangerous" and "un-American," the comments prompted talks among European officials on the need for self-reliance in security matters.

The performance of the European defense industry, especially when it comes to supporting Ukraine, has been lackluster, as the EU failed on its promise to deliver 1 million artillery shells between March 2023 and 2024. After supplying only about half of the promised rounds, Brussels shifted the deadline to the end of this year.

One of Breton's proposals included compelling European arms companies to prioritize European orders in times of crisis or setting up a European version of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales scheme, which helps other governments buy from American companies, Reuters wrote.

The commissioner will reportedly propose a financing package of 1.5 billion euros ($1.63 billion) through the end of 2027, which will, however, create a legal framework for further contributions. In January, Breton proposed a 100 billion euro ($108 billion) fund to boost European defense production.

EU officials told Reuters that they want to include Ukraine in the procurement scheme to jointly support production capacity.

"Our mission here is to treat Ukraine as almost equivalent to a member state," an unnamed official said.

The proposals would have to be approved by all 27 member states and by the European Parliament.

Read original article here. 

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