EU’s Breton aiming for 3 billion-euro scheme to ramp up defence production

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU industrial chief Thierry Breton is targeting 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in a new scheme to ramp up production of defence equipment, inspired by last year’s landmark procurement programme to help deliver artillery shells to Ukraine and amid geopolitical uncertainties.

The move underscores the 27-country bloc’s growing role in defence and military affairs, prompted by the war in Ukraine.

The European Commission has already allocated 1.5 billion euros but wants to double the amount, Breton told reporters on Thursday, according to his communications adviser.

“We will propose for the next phase, doing what we did just for ammunition but for all kinds of equipment that we need to produce, to enhance production in Europe,” the European commissioner told reporters in another briefing.

“We will make this public at the end of February,” he said.

The EU executive is scheduled to announce a European defence industrial strategy and a new European defence investment programme (EDIP) on Feb. 27, according to its agenda.

The previous EDIP set up in 2022 allows EU countries to team up to jointly procure defence capabilities developed in the bloc.

Breton, who earlier this week broached the idea of a 100 billion-euro European Defence Fund, said this would be up to the next Commission due to be appointed at the end of this year.

“The European Defence Fund is for the next mandate. I don’t intend to propose 100 billion euros for the next months. This is in the context of the next mandate,” he said.

($1 = 0.9117 euro)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Editing by Matthew Lewis)