The European Union goes into war economy mode

Topics : European Union, Ukraine, Russia, NATO, USA, war, ammunition,

The European Commission will propose this Wednesday to devote 500 million euros from the 2021-2027 budget of the European Union to relaunch industrial production in Europe of shells and missiles. Urgently, for Ukraine. In the longer term, for the security of the Old Continent, shaken by the war launched by Russia, by bailing out the arsenals of the Member States.

The European Commission wants to push the European defense industry back into “war economy” mode. To continue to fly to the aid of Ukraine, in constant need of ammunition. And to replenish the arsenals of the Member States, now deemed insufficient to ensure the security of the Old Continent, shaken by the assault on the Kremlin.

This industry, it is explained at the Commission’s headquarters, is being slumbered by three decades of “peace dividends” and a fall in European demand. We have to wake her up. Encourage it to relaunch the production of artillery shells and missiles, which requires significant investment. Which will only be granted if the producers are convinced that they will be able to sell their goods.

The Commission will therefore propose on Wednesday to the Member States and to the Parliament to dip into the EU budget to subsidize this increase in the production capacity of industry – a form of planned economy, devoted to the military effort, far from the usual European canons of “the invisible hand of the market”…

Concretely, the Commission wants to mobilize 500 million euros from the 2021-2027 budget (out of the 1.800 billion available, post-covid recovery fund included) to stimulate this production capacity and its supply chain. And since it will be European co-financing of an average of 50% of the investment, a total of 1 billion euros should be allocated to this industrial recovery. Which, agreement of the 27 and the Parliament obliges, will not be on the way within three months! But the idea is still to have restarted the machine within 12 to 18 months.

Third part

About fifteen current industrial sites, in eleven Member States, have been identified to take part in the project. They were visited by Commissioner Breton, in charge of the internal market. “We have in Europe maintained a substantial and diversified industrial base for ammunition production. It does not currently have the scope to meet the security needs of Ukraine and our member states. But she has all the potential to do so. We have nothing to envy to our partners”, assures Breton (but the figures are classified). Implied, in accordance with the desire for “strategic autonomy” of certain Europeans: no need to go and get supplies from the United States or South Korea to ensure the defense of Ukraine and that of the EU.

The Commission’s plan is the third part of the Europeans’ commitment to supply Ukraine… 1 million ammunition to Ukraine in 12 months, with European funding at stake. The first component consists of drawing on the stocks of European armies to supply Ukraine. With a disappointing result, at this stage, acknowledged last week the head of EU diplomacy Borrell: a large thousand missiles and, it is said, 40,000 shells. But this part of the plan continues until the end of the month. The second then aims to push member states to pool new orders from industry, for Ukraine but also for European armies. Hence the need to seriously increase production capacity. And quick.

It is that the war in Ukraine is on the way to becoming an industrial war, where the camp benefiting from the best production capacity should score points on the adversary. British intelligence services thus highlighted, on Tuesday, the shortage of ammunition in Russia to explain that Moscow is no longer making a significant breakthrough in Ukraine. And the recent ousting of the head of Russian logistics, General Mizintsev, would illustrate these difficulties.

Le Soir (Belgium), 02/05/2023

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