Breton: European defence industry plays a key role in meeting new security challenges [KEYNOTE]

By Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market

Speech by Commissioner Thierry Breton at the Atlantic Council - Adapting our defence capacities to a changing world.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here again at the Atlantic Council.

The reason for me being in Washington today and tomorrow is to pursue EU-US cooperation in the Trade and Tech Council on issues of common interest such as AI, quantum, secure connectivity, chips and raw materials – all of which are of course also highly critical for the defence industry on both sides of the Atlantic.

As we approach 2 years since the start of Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, the Atlantic Council has rightly chosen to host today’s discussion on adapting our defence capacities to a changing world.

Indeed, we all face new security challenges – the war in Ukraine, geopolitical tension between China and the US, war in the Middle East… – which force us to rethink how we protect and deter.

 

 

In the face of this ongoing devastating war, the people of Ukraine are demonstrating impressive resolve and resilience. And the EU, like the US, has made it clear that Ukraine is our top priority.

The EU has been offering political, humanitarian, financial and military support to Ukraine, and cooperating with neighbouring countries to support them in providing protection for people fleeing the invasion.

Overall, since the start of the war, EU support to Ukraine and Ukrainians amounts to almost €85 billion ($92 billion). And we are about to finalise a supplementary €50 billion ($54 billion) envelope for a Ukraine Facility until 2027.

Europe’s defence industry is playing a key role in addressing these new security challenges. Indeed, in Europe, we have a very strong defence equipment industrial base. We can produce all kinds of equipment. And we have factories all across our continent, from North to South and West to East. I have been visiting our defence production sites over the past months, encouraged a ramp-up of our production capacity, addressed bottlenecks, developed industrial partnerships, and engaged Defence Ministers of our 27 EU countries, starting first and foremost with ammunition production which is a pressing need of Ukraine.

 

Defence Industry Europe mobile V2

 

As a result, over the past months, we have significantly increased our industrial ammunition production capacity in record time. We will soon reach the capacity to deliver 1 million rounds of ammunition per year for Ukraine. What matters now is to work closely with our 27 EU countries to ensure orders are placed and prioritised and that ammunition is effectively delivered to Ukraine.

Ukraine will remain our priority as long as it takes, and we will do whatever it takes.

In support of Ukraine, and to increase our collective EU security.

And beyond the urgent imperative of the war in Ukraine, we will continue to build a European Defence Union.

With the return of high-intensity conflict on the European continent, we must adapt our armies and industries to new realities and new threats.

Security of supply and the ability to scale up have become essential. We must produce more and faster, without depending on others.

And we must seize the opportunity of the increased investments announced by our 27 EU countries to do it together.

Because, as Europeans, we must strengthen our role as security provider for our own continent.

 

Defence Industry Europe mobile V2

 

This has rightly been requested by successive US administrations – obviously with different tonalities.

And let’s face it: the necessity of a credible European defence policy is a fact, regardless of the outcome of US elections every four years.

Because whatever the US government in place, the truth is: a stronger Europe in NATO means a stronger NATO.

A stronger Europe in defence means having the freedom of choice when it comes to our security, and not depending on decisions taken elsewhere.  This is about European Defence Readiness.

This is why in a few weeks I will present a European Defence Industry Strategy together with a new EU investment facility.

This will contribute to a safer Europe, a stronger Europe in NATO and in turn a safer and more secure transatlantic partnership. Because what we need now is cooperation rather than competition.

In the new world order, the US and NATO can count on an increasingly credible and reliable partner when it comes to ensuring our collective security: Europe.

 

Source: European Commission.

 

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