Von der Leyen makes case for codifying Ukraine's role in Europe's defense planning
Ursula von der Leyen and Volodymyr Zelenskyi (Photo: OP)

The European Union should take Ukraine's military needs into account when determining the future strategy of Europe's defense industry, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said at the annual conference of the European Defense Agency, Reuters reports.

"Our strategy can only be complete if it also takes into account Ukraine's needs and Ukraine's industrial capacity," she stated.

The head of the European Commission said that Ukraine should be integrated into EU defense programs to help meet the country's needs in the war against Russian invasion.

"The first step to achieve this, is to involve Ukraine in the consultation process of the Industrial Strategy. This should lead to integrating Ukraine in some of our defence programmes, with the agreement of the European Parliament and Council, where necessary," von der Leyen said.

Also, according to her, the Commission intends to propose a European defense industry program in early 2024, which will also consider ways of financing the manufacturers.

As part of this program, the Commission will seek to understand how it can ensure that the defense industry's contribution to European security is recognized by sustainable financial investors, said von der Leyen.

Next year, the EU defense industry must fulfill the task of increasing production capacity for ammunition to one million rounds per year, she added.

The European official noted that this task is not related to the EU's plan to provide Ukraine with one million artillery shells and missiles within a year – a goal that, according to German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and other officials, the bloc is unlikely to achieve.

In March 2023, the European Union adopted a plan to supply Ukraine with ammunition, which provides for the purchase of 1 million shells within 12 monhts, but its capacity was not enough to fulfill its promise. As of the end of November, Ukraine received only 300,000 shells.

According to the latest IMF estimates, Ukraine needs $32 billion in external financing by 2024. As of the end of October, the two largest donors of Ukraine — the European Union and the United States — have not yet approved financial assistance to Ukraine for the next year.

On November 10, EU representatives said that the bloc would be able to bypass any Hungarian veto and provide Ukraine with 50 billion euros ($53.4 billion) in aid.