The European Union should move its economy to a wartime footing amid the Ukraine conflict, Manfred Weber, the president of the European People’s Party (EPP), suggested on Thursday. He said that the move is required to ramp up the bloc's own defense potential, and that of Kiev.
Speaking to the newspapers of the Funke media group, Weber called for the reorganization of the EU arms industry. The MEP believes that the bloc needs “a kind of war economy… in order to be able to guarantee stability and security”.
“The European states are currently not in a position to provide the necessary armaments quickly enough, neither for our own defense, nor for Ukraine,” he lamented. To remedy the situation, Weber argued, the EU should “break new ground,” pointing out that complex allocation structures are not working the way they are supposed to.
The MEP pointed out that Germany had established a €100 billion ($109 billion) special defense fund amid the Ukraine conflict, but “hardly anything happens because the bureaucracy is paralyzing.” “A year after the start of the war, the armaments companies have hardly received any orders,” he added.
His comments come after both the US and Germany on Wednesday approved the delivery of 31 M1 Abrams and 14 Leopard 2 tanks respectively to Kiev. However, the decision comes amid numerous warnings by EU officials that the bloc’s own arms stockpiles are running low.
Last month, Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that the Ukraine conflict had become “a brutal wake-up call” for the bloc’s policymakers and its military industry, which had been underfunded for years.
The military aid for Ukraine comes from army stocks and “everybody agrees that this stockpile has been quickly depleted because they were almost empty,” he admitted at the time.
Russia has repeatedly warned the West against supplying Ukraine with weapons, arguing that this would only prolong the conflict but would not change its outcome. On Wednesday, commenting on the Western tank shipments, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov reiterated that this armor “would burn as [did] the rest of it.”
“They [tanks] are quite expensive, and this will fall and is falling on the shoulders of, first of all, European taxpayers,” the spokesman stated, suggesting that Washington would likely financially benefit from the deliveries.
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