MILAN — The Lithuanian government has approved new procedures designed to lower administrative hurdles for foreign defense looking to open production facilities in the Baltic state.

The moves ride on a wave of demand in Europe for anything from artillery shells to drones that shows no sign of ebbing amid support for Ukraine and nations’ eagerness to replenish their own stockpiles.

Officials in Vilnius earlier this month ratified a series of amendments that seek to short-circuit established procedures and reviews in the interest of time. The new language introduces “a new category of investment projects” that counts large-scale manufacturing projects in the defense sector as addressing “pressing national security needs,” Agnė Raščiūtė, head of communications at Invest Lithuania, an organization of the country’s Ministry of Economy, told Defense News.

Under the latest policies, these projects will benefit from certain managerial exemptions that will allow companies to shorten the setup time of their facilities from two years to six months.

For example, the package includes a provision whereby European defense producers could begin the construction of their plants in Lithuania without a permit, needing to obtain one only before the build completion.

Ramping up the production capacity of Europe’s defense industry has been at the forefront of priorities for the European Union and its member states since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

While companies have begun building new manufacturing plants, it will take years for them to pump out the amount of equipment that military leaders say is needed. Industry lobbyists have seized on what they consider bottlenecks in construction permitting or environmental reviews, for example, that limit a more comprehensive ramp-up of the bloc’s defense manufacturing.

“Administrative and regulatory hurdles often hinder European defense industry from rapidly increasing its production — red tape can severely impact the EU’s ability to respond promptly to crises and changing geopolitical dynamics,” a spokesman at the Aerospace and Defense Industries Association of Europe told Defense News.

According to some officials, greasing the wheels of bureaucracy is easier for smaller European countries where fewer people are involved in such processes, such as Estonia.

“We have a very quick political decision-making process where once the government has allocated to us the funds, we are efficient at putting this money on the markets right away,” Tuuli Duneton, Estonia’s undersecretary for defense policy, told Defense News in an interview last year.

“[Whereas] with some much bigger countries, we can see that it takes a lot of time and is quite bureaucratic, with complicated procedures,” she added.

In Germany, the defense-industry association BDSV has floated the idea of using the fast-tracked process for the construction of liquid natural gas infrastructure, hastily constructed at Germany’s North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts after shutting off Russian gas imports, as a blueprint for the defense industry.

A new legislative package enacted specifically for LNG projects skirted certain environmental impact assessments and shortened the time period for public feedback based on the urgency argument in supplementing Germany’s energy mix.

Sebastian Sprenger in Cologne, Germany, contributed to this report.

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.

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