EU leaders to push forward defence investment programme at December summit

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European Union leaders are pushing for the swift establishment of an investment program to boost output in the bloc’s defense industry because of the war in Ukraine, according to draft conclusions for a Dec. 15-16 summit.

“The European Council (…) calls on the Commission to swiftly present a proposal for a European defence investment programme to strengthen the capacity and resilience of the European defence technology and industrial sector, including small and medium-sized enterprises,” says the draft, seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The document is likely to be amended before the summit.

EU leaders will also press the bloc’s Executive Commission and the European Defence Agency to step up their efforts to identify military shortages and coordinate joint defence procurement, in particular to replenish their stockpiles, which have been depleted in support of Ukraine.

The EU has long urged member states to pool their efforts on buying weapons rather than driving up prices by competing with each other or striking individual deals with suppliers outside the bloc.

Countries have been reluctant to do so, but the war in Ukraine — which Russia calls a “special operation” — and the pace of Western arms deliveries to Kiev have added a new sense of urgency.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said this month that the EU and its member states have so far provided Ukraine with weapons and military equipment worth at least 8 billion euros.

At their Brussels summit, EU leaders will also call for infrastructure works aimed at facilitating rapid military movement across Europe to be accelerated, according to the draft.

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The construction and modernisation of infrastructure such as roads and bridges is part of the EU’s “Military Mobility” project, which also aims to simplify and standardise procedures for military personnel and equipment when crossing borders by road, rail, sea or air.

Military experts have long complained that abandoned or non-existent infrastructure and red tape hamper the rapid movement of personnel and equipment, which would be crucial if NATO allies had to send reinforcements to Eastern Europe in the event of conflict.

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