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Support for Ukraine, state of defence preparedness and situations in Sahel and Red Sea was on agenda of informal meeting of European defence ministers

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The European defence ministers met in Brussels at the Palais d’Egmont on Wednesday  to discuss military support for Ukraine, the state of European defence preparedness and the situation in the Sahel and the Red Sea.

The ministers first heared from their Ukrainian counterpart, Rustem Umerov, by video message, on the situation on the ground in Ukraine, before discussing among themselves what support to give Kyiv. To date, the Member States, via their bilateral aid and the European Peace Facility (EPF), have provided €28 billion in military aid to Ukraine.

The revision of the EPF, with a special section on Ukraine, has also been debated. “We are working on ending the destocking logic and switching to acquisitions and joint production”, explained several sources.

“We have to use European money for European projects”, said a senior European official, adding that this should be done through the EUMAM training mission – as well as assistance measures – and through common markets. He added that there would be an exit phase, with a gradual phasing out of bilateral deliveries in favour of joint purchases.

A number of questions remain. Germany would like what it is going to spend bilaterally on Ukraine – €8 billion in 2024 – to be taken into account. Without going so far as to take bilateral expenditure into account, the EEAS proposes to see how much each Member State must pay to the EPF and recover via reimbursements from the facility, which could lead some States not to pay, if the reimbursements are greater than the amount due.

According to a source at the Elysée Palace, work is currently underway on changes to the parameters “and the budget issue will come later”. While the proposal of €20 billion over four years seems to have been abandoned, the aim is reportedly to replenish the Ukraine component by €5 billion a year. According to a senior European official, the amount decided by the Member States will be linked to the facility’s new terms.

The ministers also took stock of the objective of supplying one million munitions to Kyiv by the end of March, an ambition that will not be achieved. They may therefore discuss ways of speeding up the process.

In a speech to the Atlantic Council on 29 January, European Commissioner Thierry Breton pointed out that the EU would soon have the capacity to deliver one million munitions a year to Ukraine. “What matters now is to work closely with our 27 EU countries to ensure that orders are placed and prioritised, and that ammunition is actually delivered to Ukraine”, he added.

While not all Member States have shared information on their arms deliveries to Ukraine, the EU’s High Representative, Josep Borrell is expected to ask them to do so and, if necessary, to use the framework of the European Defence Agency to place arms orders. He could also recall the importance of European industry reprioritising shipments to Ukraine and the need for it to produce more.

The ministers also discussed the next objectives of the EUMAM training mission. The aim was to train 40,000 soldiers by the end of 2023.

The ministers discussed the EU’s defence preparedness. In particular, they took stock of the progress of the EU Rapid Deployment Capability (EU RDC), which should be operational by 2025.

The strengthening of the EU’s Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) and the forthcoming European Defence Industrial Strategy (EDIS), which the European Commission is due to present at the end of February, should also be central to the debates.

“With the return of high-intensity conflict on the European continent, we need to adapt our armies and industries to the new realities and threats. Security of supply and the ability to evolve have become essential. We need to produce more and faster, without depending on others”, emphasised Mr Breton.

Finally, the EU defence ministers shareed their views, including with UN and NATO representatives, on operations and challenges in the Sahel region and the Red Sea.

Discussions will focus in particular on Niger and the follow-up to the EUCAP Niger mission. The ministers are also expected to discuss the future of the EUTM Mali mission, which is no longer training Malian soldiers. Its mandate runs until May, and the EU Council will have to decide unanimously whether or not to extend it.

Current developments in the Red Sea, with attacks by the Houthis, also been discussed. The ministers discussed the creation of an EU naval mission, named ‘Aspides’, to ensure the safety of commercial vessels 

The senior European official pointed out that during the force generation phase, seven Member States had already indicated that they were prepared to offer ships, capabilities and aircraft. The EEAS estimated that a minimum of three ships was needed to launch the mission.


Source: European Business Intelligence

EU Briefs publie des articles provenant de diverses sources extérieures qui expriment un large éventail de points de vue. Les positions prises dans ces articles ne sont pas nécessairement celles d'EU Briefs.

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