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EU intends to increase defense production - Bloomberg

EU intends to increase defense production - Bloomberg Photo: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Getty Images)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The European Union will aim to have half of its defense systems purchased within the bloc by 2035, reversing a trend where most military equipment is purchased from third countries, according to Bloomberg.

This goal is part of the European Defense Industrial Strategy developed by the EU executive, which also describes joint investments, measures to ensure the security of critical supplies and changes in the European Investment Bank's lending policy, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg.

The European Commission is expected to present the strategy, which is still subject to change, in the coming weeks.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exposed the limitations of EU industry and its dependence on other countries for key supplies and defense capabilities, leaving the bloc struggling to increase production capacity and spending after decades of underinvestment.

"The geopolitical developments point to a compelling need for Europe to take increased responsibility for its own security and to get ready to effectively address the full spectrum of the threats it faces," the draft says.

The proposals in the defense strategy include:

  • A minimum floor for joint procurement of defense equipment and reversal of the trend toward purchasing military systems from non-EU suppliers, so that one-third to one-half of the value of the EU defense market is accounted for by intra-EU trade
  • Mechanisms to ensure that critical supplies can be immediately ramped up in the event of a shortage or crisis and that critical dependence on third countries can be quickly identified
  • Expanding the industry's access to EU funding and programs and creating new partnerships in defense and security
  • Identifying flagship projects on which to focus efforts and resources.

In addition to the war in neighboring Ukraine, the EU and its member states face widespread hybrid threats, including cyberattacks, sabotage, and hacking of critical infrastructure, the draft says.

According to the strategy, the EU needs to be able to mass-produce defense equipment such as munitions and drones. Europe also needs to protect its access to maritime, air, cyber, and outer space.

The European Commission will propose the creation of a new investment coordination body called the Defense Industrial Readiness Board to improve cooperation between member states and the Commission. The Council will also monitor critical products and supply chains.

The EU also proposes to identify flagship projects, such as a cyber shield, an integrated European air and missile defense system, the development of sensors that allow the bloc to detect, analyze, and respond to threats in space, and the protection of critical infrastructure.

EU defense

Earlier, Politico reported that the European Union is considering the creation of a European Commissioner for Defense to oversee industrial aspects of defense policy.

In addition, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that Europe should limit social welfare spending and cut taxes to deter a more aggressive Russia through a continued increase in defense and security funding.