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EU and Ukraine boost cooperation at Defence Industries Forum

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The EU-Ukraine Defence industries Forum in Brussels focused on strengthening defence industrial cooperation between the EU and Ukraine, providing sustained military support to Ukraine, including for the long term, and better addressing Ukrainian defence and industrial needs. It gathered over 400 representatives from governments, EU and Ukrainian defence industries, industry associations and key partner countries and organisations as well as EU institutions.

The EU-Ukraine Defence Industries Forum is a first, concrete step in the implementation of the European Defence Industrial Strategy (EDIS), launched in March 2024. The Forum opens the way to identify concrete cooperation initiatives, arrangements and flagship projects between the EU and Ukraine defence industries, through e.g., joint ventures. This will promote closer cooperation between defence companies and the progressive integration of the Ukrainian industry in the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB), also in view of Ukraine’s accession process to the EU.

High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said: “Today’s Forum is a key step to bolster cooperation between Ukrainian and EU defence industries. It is crucial now but also for our future needs. I am convinced it will bring our defence industries closer, allow us to learn from each other, and help Ukraine to defend itself from Russia’s war of aggression. This may prove to be a game changer for the long term.”

As Russia continues to wage its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, the EU stands firm in its determination and steadfast commitment to support Ukraine with whatever it takes to prevail, in the short-term as well as for the long run. This Forum testifies to this commitment.

Minister of Strategic Industries of Ukraine, Oleksandr Kamyshin, said: "Ukraine is forever grateful for all the assistance the EU and its Member States have delivered and continue to provide. Over the last year, we have also been ramping up our own capabilities significantly — and we aim to build them in cooperation with our allies. We see our defence industry as part of the EU’s defence industrial base, contributing to the collective security of the EU’s Member States."

The EU will continue to encourage Member States to deliver more and faster military assistance to Ukraine and provide support via European Peace Facility. The EU has proposed to support joint procurement from the European defence industry (and Norway) and encourages procurement through joint ventures between the European and Ukrainian defence industry. The EU is also working towards the set-up of an EU innovation office in Kyiv.

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said “Our commitment towards Ukraine and our joint ambition to mobilise the European industry to deliver what is needed, are as solid as ever. The European defence industries must move into a war economy mode. The objective is to produce faster, more and together, to continue supporting Ukraine, now and on the long term.”

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Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, said: “If we are to maintain peace in Europe, we must transition to a wartime European economy and industry, as paradoxical as this may sound. What we can do is deter aggressive Russia by demonstrating that Europe has the means to defend itself. A common defense industrial space would help overcome existing problems. No country can help Ukraine and protect Europe on its own. Only a collective effort can.”

The Forum was the third multilateral edition of a series of international defence industries events launched by the Ukrainian government in Kyiv in September 2023 – the first one organised by the EU. Developed against the backdrop of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the objective of EDIS is to strengthen the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) and achieve defence industrial readiness, in order to better protect EU citizens and support partners. Developing closer ties with Ukraine through its participation in Union’s initiatives in support of defence industry and stimulating cooperation between the EU and Ukrainian defence industries are among the set of actions presented in EDIS.

In line with the Conclusions of the European Council, the EU and Member States committed to continue addressing Ukraine’s pressing military and defence needs. The EU and Member States have delivered €32 billion military assistance to Ukraine. On 18 March 2024, the Council of the European Union adopted the Ukraine Assistance Fund providing additional €5 billion of support, to be implemented under the European Peace Facility. Under this instrument, the EU has provided lethal and non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine, including ammunition, as well as covered common costs for the training of the 47,000 Ukrainian soldiers trained so far by the EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM). The target is to have trained 60,000 Ukrainian troops by summer 2024.

On 15 March 2024, the European Commission selected 31 potential projects with a total funding of €500 million under the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) to assist European industry in increasing its ammunition and missiles production and readiness. On the same day, the European Commission adopted the instrument for the reinforcement of the European defence industry through common procurement (EDIRPA) Work Programme and launched the respective calls for proposal with a total budget of €310 million.

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