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Update – EU takes first steps towards joint procurement of military equipment

Der Krieg in der Ukraine hat schonungslos offengelegt, wie schlecht es um die europäische Verteidigungsfähigkeit bestellt ist. Grundsätzlich haben sich die Mitgliedsstaaten verabredet, bei der Schließung von sogenannten Fähigkeitslücken (die auftreten, wenn das vorhandene technische Gerät nicht mehr den Anforderungen entspricht) zusammenzuarbeiten. Die Umsetzung gestaltet sich aber schwieriger als erwartet, da Beschaffung bisher ein rein nationalstaatliches Thema war und kaum ein Mitgliedsstaat bereit ist, diese Aufgabe wirklich in die Hände der EU zu geben. Aber Mitgliedsstaaten und Kommission gehen erste Schritte – und das Europäische Parlament ist mit von der Partie.

Jüngst wurde von den EU-Verteidigungsminister*innen beschlossen, der Ukraine binnen zwölf Monaten eine große Menge Munition zu liefern, unter anderem eine Million Artilleriegeschosse – nur muss die Munition erst einmal beschafft werden. Kürzlich wurde hierzu auf einem EU-Gipfel diskutiert (siehe auch mein Beitrag in „Streitkräfte und Strategien“, ab 21:56 und in „Politico“). Der EU-Außenbeauftragte Josep Borrell schlägt vor, dass die EU zwei Milliarden Euro aus der Europäischen Friedensfazilität (einem Militärfonds außerhalb des EU-Haushalts) bereitstellt. Damit sollen dann Mitgliedsstaaten u.a. Munition neu kaufen, die sie aus ihren Beständen an die Ukraine abgegeben haben. Zwar soll jedes Land weiterhin für sich Munition bestellen, jedoch sollen die jeweiligen nationalen Rahmenverträge für interessierte Partnerstaaten geöffnet werden, um sich zu beteiligen. Auf diese Weise können Mitgliedstaaten gemeinsam von den Vorteilen profitieren, die sich aus der koordinierten Beschaffung von Rüstungsgütern ergeben.

“EDIRPA” – What is it all about?

EDIRPA ("European defence industry reinforcement through common procurement act") is another initiative launched by the Commission last year – it is now with Parliament and the trilogue negotiations are to be concluded by summer. As a consequence of Russia's war of aggression, many member states are currently increasing their defence budgets. Against this background, EDIRPA aims to improve defence capabilities by promoting coordinated arms purchases by member states. The idea is that member states should not compete with each other on the market as they have done up to now, but coordinate procurement and, in the best-case scenario, be able to negotiate better conditions based on higher quantities purchased. The additional costs incurred in the coordination of a joint procurement of defence equipment are to be paid from EDIRPA funds. We discussed this initiative in a meeting of the Defence Committee and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. The following points are important to us as Greens/EFA:

  • In principle, we are strongly in favour of joint procurement of defence equipment: After all, all member states together have greater market power than a single member state. In this way, unnecessary costs can be reduced, which helps to use taxpayers' money as efficiently as possible. In addition, the joint purchase of defence equipment can improve interoperability within the EU.  
  • The 500 million euros budgeted for EDIRPA so far will not be decisive when determining whether to procure jointly. What is much more important is the political will to make things happen! Positive examples include the above-mentioned decision on ammunition deliveries to Ukraine and the use of the European Peace Facility to finance military assistance to Ukraine by member states. We therefore believe that there is no need at this point for this (symbolic) subsidy from an already strained EU budget.
  • EDIRPA must not directly finance the purchase of defence equipment, as this would violate the European Treaties. This must clearly be stated in the legal text.
  • Increased European cooperation in the defence sector must go hand in hand with stronger supervision and control by the European Parliament. After all, 500 million euros out of the EU budget have been earmarked for EDIRPA, and the European Parliament must approve the EU budget. In the past, Parliament has waived its rights of scrutiny in similar cases – this should not be repeated!

Unfortunately, the past has shown that the member states are often only on paper willing to cooperate more at the European level in the field of defence. For example, the member states should have been providing the European Defence Agency with information on their defence capabilities in various areas for several years now – but that basically did not happen: The attack on Ukraine has drawn the focus to these negligences.

As long as no mind shift takes place, EU initiatives in this area will continue to struggle to gain acceptance. It is therefore up to the member states to make clear announcements – and then implement them. If Russia's war is not enough to kick things off, what is?

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