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EU commissioner advocates for redirecting 40% of EU ammo exports to fulfill Ukraine’s million-round need

By March, the EU will be able to produce one million artillery shells a year, but 40% of production is contracted to be exported outside Europe, EU Commissioner Breton said, emphasizing, “Ukraine must become a priority.”
155 artillery ammunition
155 mm artillery shells. Illustrative photo: rheinmetall.com
EU commissioner advocates for redirecting 40% of EU ammo exports to fulfill Ukraine’s million-round need

During a question and answer session with Members of the European Parliament in Brussels on 21 November, European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton shared insights on the EU’s pledge to supply Ukraine with 1 million rounds of ammunition by March 2024. Breton attributed his assessment to his visits to military-industrial firms across 15 EU member states.

Breton has stated that by spring 2024, EU defense companies are expected to achieve a production capacity of 1 million artillery shells annually. Furthermore, he projected that by the end of the following year, the production rate could increase to between 1.3 and 1.4 million shells per year, DW reports.

At the same time, according to Breton, “the problem lies in the situation with contracts in general,” as about 40% of production is delivered outside Europe to third countries.

Thierry Breton has suggested that for the entire quantity of produced ammunition to be delivered to Ukraine, EU member states must prioritize Ukrainian needs in their production schedules. However, he noted that the EU Council has not endorsed this proposal. Additionally, he mentioned that EU countries are currently not signing a sufficient number of contracts for shell production.

“We are building the European defense market step by step. Signing contracts will allow us to accelerate our deliveries to Ukraine,” Breton emphasized.

According to him, production is accelerating, and the EU can quickly create additional capacity, but political will must come first for supplies to Ukraine.

Earlier, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell proposed the same redirection of ammunition exports to Ukraine.

  • The European Union and its member nations have supplied Ukraine with 27 billion euros in military aid.
  • In January 2023, Ukraine said to have started domestic artillery ammunition production and organized production across multiple cities to avoid aerial attacks.
  • In March 2022, European Council President Charles Michel stated the objective of delivering one million artillery shells to Ukraine within the next 12 months. This initiative is part of a broader EU defense effort.
  • The EU has committed 2 billion euros from the European Peace Facility to ensure the Ukrainian Armed Forces have the necessary ammunition.
  • To date, EU stockpiles have provided Ukraine with at least 300,000 units of ammunition.
  • In October 2023, Ukraine’s defense industry reportedly increased its shell production but still could not meet the demand, necessitating Western assistance.
  • As for further joint procurement, Brussels has indicated that member states have signed new contracts, but the European Commission has not released the total financial details of these agreements.
  • NATO called on Western military powers to increase ammunition production due to Ukraine’s daily firing of thousands of shells.

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