EU's Defence Stockpiles Are “Almost Empty” Amid Russian Threat: Official
According to the EDA report, EU countries will spend a total of USD 226 billion on defence in 2021, surpassing the USD 211 billion mark for the first time after a 6 per cent year-on-year increase
Europe's defence investments are increasing, but stockpiles are “almost empty” and critical defence capabilities are lacking, according to the European Union's top diplomat.
“The war in Ukraine has been a brutal wake-up call for many of us,” Josep Borrell told reporters gathered in Brussels for the annual spending report of the European Defence Agency (EDA).
We have been underinvesting for years, and as a result, our stockpiles have quickly depleted due to the fact that we are providing them to Ukraine, Borrell said.
When we provide military assistance to Ukraine, it does not come from the factory, it comes from the stocks, the army stocks and everyone agrees that this stockpile has been rapidly depleted because it was nearly empty, he said.
According to Borrell, the EU also lacks critical defence capabilities to defend itself.
According to the EDA report, EU countries will spend a total of USD 226 billion on defence in 2021, surpassing the USD 211 billion mark for the first time after a 6 per cent year-on-year increase.
Nonetheless, this amounted to only 1.5 per cent of GDP, well below the 2 per cent target.
Borrell applauded the fact that defence investment, which includes the purchase of defence equipment, increased by 16 per cent to USD 55 billion.
He said that we collectively met and exceeded the 20 per cent benchmark for the third year in a row.
Meanwhile, spending on defence research and technology increased by 41 per cent yearly to USD 3.8 billion, while spending on research and development reached USD 9.5 billion in 2021, up nearly 20 per cent from 2020.
However, collaborative defence equipment procurement fell far short of expectations.
When the benchmark was set at 35 per cent, EU countries spent a total of 18per cent of their overall defence expenditures on joint purchases.
We need to address short-term needs by investing and procuring collaboratively, buying more together, Borrell said.
Some member states have very concrete intentions to participate in joint procurements, but these intentions must be translated quickly into acquisition orders sooner rather than later. The European Defence Agency stands ready to support this procurement and act as a contracting agent as requested by the EU Member States, we have the legal basis and the experience, let us move faster to replenish our stocks, he said.
The European Commission unlocked an additional USD 1 billion in funding earlier this year to boost joint defence research and procurement. These funds were added to the nearly USD 8.4 billion allocated to the European Defence Fund for 2021-2027.
Several EU countries have increased their defence spending pledges in response to Russia's ten-month war on Ukraine. Germany, for example, recently announced a USD 105 billion package to upgrade its military equipment.