ROME and STUTTGART, Germany — The European Union committed €500 million ($553 million) on Wednesday to beefing up the bloc’s ammunition production lines to better supply Ukraine, saying member states would match the sum with individual contributions.
The total of €1 billion to bolster output from factories across Europe will add to another €2 billion already committed by the EU to compensate members who donate their existing ammunition stocks to Kyiv as well to the joint purchase of fresh stocks to help halt Russia’s invasion.
Announcing the draft legislation for investing in EU factories, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, “Ukraine is heroically resisting the brutal Russian invader. We stand by our promise to support Ukraine and its people, for as long as it takes.”
Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, added he was “confident” that the so-called Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) would push EU output to one million rounds of ammunition a year within 12 months.
The challenge is arming Ukraine for its planned spring offensive with an EU industrial base which has suffered from what the EU called “years of underinvestment.”
The ASAP cash will be used to build new factories producing ammunition and missiles, upgrade existing ones, encourage cross-border partnerships, improve access to raw materials, test and recondition old ammunition stocks and train new staff, the bloc said.
“This is not only for the benefit of the Ukrainian armed forces in their fight to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty against the Russian invasion, but also for the security of the European Union,” said Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign policy chief.
On Wednesday, Breton tweeted a video of his recent visits to EU production sites including Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Sweden, Bulgaria, Romania, Finland, France, Czechia, Italy, Austria, and Greece, and previewed future visits to sites in Germany and Spain.
The scheme has been dubbed the third track in a package of measures agreed on in March, starting with the one billion euros to be spent reimbursing members for ammunition stocks donated to Ukraine.
Track two – a plan to spend another billion on the joint purchase by members on new ammunition – has sparked a row over whether the cash needed to be spent within the EU or could be used outside the union to speed up purchasing.
The funds would come from the EU’s off-budget mechanism known as the European Peace Facility (EPF), now holding more than €8 billion.
Sweden, which currently holds the revolving presidency of the EU Council, announced on Wednesday a deal had been struck.
An EU source told Defense News it was a compromise solution which requires the cash to be spent on ammunition and missiles which have “undergone an important” part of their manufacture in the EU or Norway, including final assembly.
Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.
Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.