European Union lawmakers on Tuesday approved a 300-million-euro ($320-million) initiative to boost joint arms purchases by member states as part of the bloc’s bid to bolster Europe’s defense industry.
Russia’s war on Ukraine has sent the EU scrambling to ramp up arms production as deliveries to help Kyiv’s forces have sapped military stockpiles.
The new scheme is the first aimed at incentivizing joint purchases in the bloc and will see Brussels pay up to 20 percent of deals involving at least three EU countries.
“It will help them to refill their stocks, increase interoperability among our armed forces, strengthen our industry and contribute to our unwavering support for Ukraine,” Michael Gahler, a member of the European Parliament, said.
But he warned it was only a “starting point” in ambitions to increase defense cooperation within the EU.
The plan had been stuck in the parliament for months as lawmakers wrangled over the scope, and its proposed budget was cut from 500 million.
The rest of the money went towards a broader drive to bolster European weapons manufacturers that Brussels pushed through in recent months.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has given a major impetus to EU defense efforts and seen the bloc break a long-standing taboo on paying for arms to be sent to a war zone.
The EU is already currently working on joint contracts for 155-millimeter artillery shells as part of a push aimed at getting one million of them to Ukraine over 12 months.
The bloc’s defense agency has so far signed eight framework contracts for purchases, and it is now up to member states to place their orders.
The EU says that together with all its member states it has provided military support worth 20 billion euros to Ukraine since Russia’s all-out invasion in February 2022.