EU Lawmakers Speed Process To Boost Ammunition Production Across Europe
By Aurélie Pugnet
(EurActiv) — EU lawmakers voted on Tuesday (May 9) to speed up the legislative process and adopt a law aiming to boost ammunition production in Europe to the tune of €500 million, in order to supply Ukraine.
The decision should see the new legislation – termed the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) – in place by the end of the year, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and European Commission officials have said.
MEPs agreed with 518 votes in favour to 59 against and 31 abstentions.
The proposal, initiated by the Commission last week, would help produce one million artillery shells over the next 12 months, adding to a stream of military deliveries already on their way to Ukraine.
But shifting such large amounts of munitions to Ukraine has severely depleted stocks in EU member countries’ arsenals, creating the need for the new ammunition-production act.
Ramp up production
The ASAP law “will help member states to ramp up the production… and speed up the delivery of ammunition to meet Ukraine’s and member states’ needs”, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, told a joint news conference in Kyiv alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The draft legislation calls for tapping the EU’s European Defence Fund and another mechanism the Commission proposed last July, called the European Defence Industrial Reinforcement through common Procurement Act (EDIRPA).
EU countries will also be asked to co-finance the new ammunition production lines making ammunition and missiles.
The contribution from the EU budget would also be available to help secure supply chains, step up gunpowder output for instance, and refit old ammunition.
The European Parliament’s biggest political group, the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) – to which von der Leyen also belongs – called for ASAP’s legislative procedure to skip the usual parliamentary committee phase in order to “urgently” accelerate its adoption.
The Commission originally proposed this move when it presented its text, in view of the current urgent needs.
One of the EPP lawmakers, Christian Ehler, told the European Parliament as it voted for the truncated process that “we have to ramp up European production of the ammunition that is urgently needed in support of Ukraine in the war launched by Russia, but also for Europe itself”.
This proposal is the third track of an EU plan to keep supplying Ukraine with ammunition and replenish the bloc’s own stocks as the war entered its fifteenth month.
EU member states agreed in March to deliver ammunition by digging further into their own stocks. Last week they also agreed to jointly procure artillery shells on behalf of Ukraine.