SIEGEN, Germany — European Union member nations must soon deliver shopping lists of weapons and ammunitions expended in Ukraine that they want Brussels to help restock, according to EU and industry officials.
The July 25 deadline would kick off the first cycle of a new co-financing instrument meant to replenish nations’ arsenals with exclusively European-made products in an effort to strengthen the bloc’s defense industry.
Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine in late February, member countries have sent Ukraine a steady stream of military support, ranging from handheld weapons and ammunitions to, more recently, small numbers of artillery pieces.
“The countries who have delivered munitions in great quantities are very interested in replenishing their stocks,” one senior EU defense official said recently. That is because they face “internal pressure” to secure their own countries’ defenses, the official explained.
But the EU’s new €500 million ($510 million) replenishment fund is quickly turning into a test case of whether the institution can be a useful broker in rapid, joint procurements at all, according to industry watchers. The task entails pooling member nations’ needs, lining up local vendors that have sufficient production capacity and using the EU’s clout to overcome supply-chain bottlenecks in the process.
Officials in Brussels are working against the clock, as member states grow frustrated with bloc bureaucracy and as they weigh buying from abroad and on their own instead. A “lack of trust” in joint procurements remains prevalent in the bloc’s defense ecosystem, the senior EU official said.
In addition, officials are still awaiting a final version of the regulation that would clarify the basic workings of the fund, a spokeswoman for the European Defence Agency told Defense News. The agency is one of several entities tasked with operationalizing the fund through a larger task force.
The number of stakeholders means there could be anywhere from 60 to 90 individuals involved in a funding mechanism meant to be “simple and straightforward in its implementation,” as chief EU diplomat Josep Borrell described the objective in a mid-May report.
An eventual EU regulation is expected to answer questions about subsidy disbursements as well as eligibility requirements for national equipment requests and manufacturers vying to fill them.
Still, the first round of member nation requests, due later this month, should be “as concrete as possible,” giving the fund’s task force an idea of the volume and interest to be expected, the EDA spokeswoman said.
Sebastian Sprenger is Europe editor for Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multinational investments in defense and global security. He previously served as managing editor for Defense News.