EU lawmakers speed process to get ammunition for Ukraine

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EU lawmakers on Tuesday voted to speed up consideration of a law to boost ammunition production in Europe to the tune of 500 million euros ($550 million), due to efforts to supply Ukraine.

The decision should see the new legislation -- termed the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) -- in place by the end of the year, MEPs and European Commission officials said.

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The spending proposal, initiated by the commission, comes as the bloc seeks to supply one million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next 12 months, adding to a stream of military deliveries.

But shifting such large amounts of munitions to Ukraine has severely depleted stocks in EU member countries’ arsenals, creating the need for the new ammunition-production act.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in a joint news conference in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the ASAP law “will help member states to ramp up the production... and speed up the delivery of ammunition to meet Ukraine’s and member states’ needs.”

The draft legislation calls for tapping the EU’s European Defense Fund and another mechanism the commission has suggested creating under a July 2022 proposal called the European Defense Industrial Reinforcement through common Procurement Act.

Member states will also be asked to co-finance the new ammunition production lines making howitzer shells and missiles, and stepping up gunpowder output and refitting old ammunition.

The European Parliament’s biggest political group, the European People’s Party (EPP) -- to which von der Leyen also belongs -- called for ASAP’s legislative procedure to skip the usual parliamentary committee phase to “urgently” accelerate its adoption.

One of its MEPs, Christian Ehler, told the parliament as it voted for the truncated process that “we have to ramp up European production of the ammunition that is urgently needed in support of Ukraine in the war launched by Russia, but also for Europe itself.”

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