EP plenary: Speeding up production and deliveries of weapons and ammunitions to Ukraine


Speech delivered by Commissioner for Financial services, Financial stability and Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness, on behalf of High-Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell


Check against delivery! 

Thank you, President, thank you Minister [for EU Affairs of Sweden] Jessica [Roswall], thank you, colleagues.

As we know, over the last year, the entire European Union has mobilised all its tools in support of Ukraine, including considerable military support. A conservative estimate puts EU Member States’ collective effort and support at €12 billion.

However, the Ukrainian Minister of Defence [Oleksii Reznikov], has informed us that they have an urgent need to ensure the stable supply of 155-millimeters artillery ammunition.

This urgent need calls for a coordinated European response, that is what the [European] Commission, together with the High Representative and the European Defence Agency (EDA), have recently proposed. An ambitious, pragmatic and rapid response around three intrinsically linked areas.

Immediately transfer ammunition from existing stockpiles.

Structure demand by placing massive orders with the European industry, covering both the needs of Ukraine and those of the Member States.  

Increase European production capacity massively and rapidly, which is a prerequisite for these orders to be met.  

To provide Ukraine with the right support at speed, we need to act in parallel on these three axes. Without an increase in industrial production, we will not create confidence for Member States to transfer more ammunition from their stocks. We want them to know that those stocks will be replenished fast in the face of a threat that is likely to last.

The Defence Joint Procurement Task Force has established a fairly precise industrial mapping of ammunition production capacities, particularly for artillery shells.

We have identified 15 producers in 11 Member States. We also know that the current EU production capacity is larger than in many of our non-EU partners. However, almost all of this production is already contracted.

The good news is that the potential of EU industry to produce 155-millimeters ammunition remains significant. We need to unlock this potential. Signing large contracts, consolidated at European level, will send the appropriate signal to industry to take action. But this is not a guarantee of delivery on time.  

Our industrial objectives are clear: reduce production time and increase production volumes. And above all: secure the earliest possible availability of the required volumes.

In order to do this, we need to support an increase in capacity and address bottlenecks, especially in the value chain. We need to monitor industrial ramp-up efforts and ensure contracting of industrial production conditions.

The Commission is ready to mobilise its regulatory clout and the available resources as appropriate, to support the defence industry to ramp up. We are working on all options, including mobilising the EU budget if needed. More specifically, we recently put on the table the European Defence Industry Reinforcement [through] common Procurement Act (EDIRPA). This short-term instrument with €500 million could be used to accelerate industrial production of the required ammunition. The support of the [European] Parliament to reach a swift agreement will be essential.

If necessary, we are also ready to mobilise other resources.

At the same time, we will need to be able to mobilise private finance, including from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and banks. To that end, Member States’ support will be essential.   

Finally, we know what our industry is doing today. Now we need to know what they will do tomorrow, and what they could do tomorrow. In that light, Commissioner [for Internal Market, Thierry] Breton has started to visit each of the 15 companies identified by the Task Force, to discuss with them directly and understand their constraints and to see how to help them increase their production capacity.

Thank you and I look forward to the debate. 

Link to the video (starting from 3:40): https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-238808 


Closing remarks  

Danke schön, Madam President, thank you, colleagues. 

I think we should reflect on the fact that we are privileged in this House that we can have different views, and nobody stops us [from] having these opinions. That is not the case elsewhere and indeed in Russia. 

To close this debate, I have listened very carefully to all of the comments, including those who ask questions about the alternatives. We all want peace. I think there is nobody who does not want peace in this room, but of course we are concerned about helping Ukraine, in what is an illegal invasion of their sovereign territory. 

Just to repeat the point that I made in my opening remarks, that we fully support the three-track package of proposals presented to Member States. We would hope for the support of this House in that regard.  

Thank you.  

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-238810 

Nabila Massrali
Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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Xavier Cifre Quatresols
Press Officer for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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