European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton insists that by the spring of 2024, the production capacity of defense companies in the EU will reach one million artillery shells annually. Still, the transfer of ammunition to Ukraine requires political will.
By March the EU will be able to produce 1 million shells yearly
During a question and answer session, the European Commissioner told MEPs about the commitment to provide Ukraine with one million rounds of ammunition, DW reports.
By March, the European Commissioner said the EU will be able to produce 1 million shells a year, but 40 per cent of the production is exported outside Europe. “Ukraine should be a priority,” Thierry Breton emphasized.
According to his estimates, by the end of 2024, the production potential will reach 1.3 to 1.4 million shells.
To ensure the supply of ammunition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the European Union has invested 2 billion euros from the European Peace Fund. Ukraine has already received at least 300,000 units of ammunition from the EU’s stockpiles.
The EU exports 40% of produced ammunition outside Europe
As for the new joint purchases, Brussels said the countries have signed new contracts, but the European Commission still needs to provide data on their total amount.
Breton noted that he came to this conclusion after visiting military-industrial companies in fifteen EU countries.
At the same time, Thierry Breton said, “The problem lies in the situation with contracts in general,” as about 40% of products leave Europe and go to third countries.
For all the produced ammunition to be transferred to Ukraine, the EU countries should prioritize production for Ukraine. The European Commissioner said this was his initial proposal, but the EU Council did not support it.
In addition, he said the EU member states need to sign more contracts to produce shells.
“We are building the European defense market step by step. The signing of contracts will help speed up our deliveries to Ukraine”.Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market
Breton emphasizes that production is accelerating, and the EU can quickly create additional capacity, but the political will to supply Ukraine must come first.
The EU is not on track to fulfil its plan to supply 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by March
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that the EU is not on track to fulfil its plan to supply 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 2024 due to the defense production capacities and bureaucratic obstacles.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius also recognized this. According to German Defense Minister, the EU will not reach its goal of delivering one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 2024.
“We have made a significant contribution through our framework agreements and will continue to do so. We are negotiating with the defense industry. Production should be increased and accelerated. This is the agenda,” Pistorius said.
Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs called on the EU to buy shells for Ukraine outside its borders, as the EU is not on schedule.
EU industry produces ammunition for howitzers that EU countries supplied to Ukraine
The ammunition to be procured is intended for the most common self-propelled howitzers EU member states have provided to Ukraine: the French Caesar, Polish Krab, German Panzerhaubitze 2000, and Slovak Zuzana.
In September, the European Defence Agency signed 8 framework contracts with industry for the joint procurement of 155mm ammunition for Ukraine.
To comply with legal obligations and to safeguard commercially sensitive information, EDA cannot disclose the contractors’ names or the unit prices at this stage and does not comment on ongoing talks.
The EU’s military support for Ukraine’s defence must continue, Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said before the meeting of the European Union’s defence ministers in late August, where they discussed long-term financial support for the Ukrainian military to help them in the defense war against the Russian invaders.
“We are taking another step forward in our three-track ammunition initiative. Member States can now pass orders within eight framework contracts. Time is of essence. Putin does not show any sign of letting up in his aggression against the Ukrainian people. This is why our military support for Ukraine’s defence must continue.“Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
EU plan to deliver to Ukraine one million rounds of ammunition
In March 2023, the EU Council approved a three-track plan to supply Ukraine with one million artillery shells. It includes the following steps: 1) supplying from its stockpiles, 2) signing contracts with private companies, and 3) expanding domestic shell production.
The two-billion-euro plan envisages providing Ukraine with one million rounds of ammunition within 12 months. Ukraine needs much ammo during an extended period to repel Russian invasion troops and liberate occupied territories as the war continues over 20 months.