EU urges members to coordinate arms purchases

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BRUSSELS, Oct 26 (Reuters) – The European Union urged the bloc’s defence ministers on Wednesday to coordinate purchases of weapons, to obtain better terms from suppliers as they seek to replenish supplies depleted by shipments to Ukraine.

Western countries have been rushing to restock weapons and ammunition after shipping huge quantities to Kyiv, requiring industry to ramp up to meet the surging demand.

“It is urgent to restore the readiness of our European armed forces and replenish depleted stocks,” Stijn Mols, the head of the EU diplomatic service’s security and defence division, told a European Parliament committee.

EU defence ministers next meet on Nov. 15, and Mols said he hoped they would present concrete proposals for coordinated arms purchases.

European countries need air and missile defence, anti-tank and artillery systems and drones, Mols said. Brussels hopes for around 5-7 “emblematic projects” to coordinate purchases by member countries in areas such as ammunition.

Defence purchases in the EU are rarely carried out jointly, with countries eager to support their domestic industries.

“It is now really the occasion for all of us to set aside these long-standing… national interests,” Mols said.

Timo Pesonen, the head of the European Commission’s Directorate General of Defence, Industry and Space, said EU countries had neglected defence investments for too long.

While EU investments had increased by 22% in 20 years, they had risen by 66% in the United States, nearly 300% in Russia and more than 600% in China, he said.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Peter Graff)

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