(Bloomberg) -- France joined Poland and Estonia in calling on the European Union to mobilize “adequate” and “concrete” funding for defense programs and suggested an approach similar to what was used during the pandemic when joint bonds were deployed. 

The European Commission will present a new defense strategy in the coming days that seeks to boost the bloc’s military purchases, but it so far hasn’t clarified how it will pay for the proposals, which include securing critical supplies, collaborative investments and resourcing projects such as integrated air and missile defense and deep sea reconnaissance capabilities. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed the limitations of the EU’s defense industry and ammunition stocks, along with its reliance on others for key supplies and defense capabilities, leaving the bloc struggling to ramp up production capacity and spending. Some have proposed issuing joint EU debt, similar to the bloc’s €800 billion ($868 billion) Covid recovery package.

“We have invested hundreds of billions into an ambitious NextGenerationEU recovery plan to help repair the damage brought about by the pandemic,” according to a joint French, Polish and Estonian paper on European defense strategy seen by Bloomberg. “While defense products present an inherently different set of challenges the risks of a defense industry ill equipped to meet the demands of the new security reality are no less strategic and no less deserving of a common response.” 

According to the paper, the EU’s strategy should aim to:

  • Improve the long-term capacity of the defense industry to provide for the needs of the continent’s armed forces, reduce strategic dependencies, and enhance the ability to scale up production quickly in times of crises
  • Support a fundamental increase in member states’ levels of munition stocks and key weapon systems
  • Enhance the EU’s and its member states competitive edge in military and dual use technologies
  • Strengthen defense industrial cooperation with Ukraine.

The EU has fallen short on a pledge to provide Ukraine with one million rounds of artillery by this month just as the war-torn nation faces a critical shortage amid some Russian advances. The paper says that time is of the essence, and that the commission needs to deliver concrete funding proposals before the next budget cycle, since “inadequate funding now will only mean higher expenditure at a later date.” 

“Experts and intelligence services warn that Russia will reconstitute its forces sooner rather than later,” according to the paper. “Reinvigorating our defense industry and Member States acquisition of battle decisive munitions and critical warfighting capabilities stocks is crucial for achieving a deterrent effect and more broadly for being better equipped to face our complex security environment.” 

France and Estonia have previously suggested that the EU should work on plans to issue eurobonds to boost the continent’s defense industry at the scale required.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told Bloomberg in an interview last month that the EU should take a similar, unified approach to security as when it tackled the Covid pandemic.

“We are in a race against time,” according to the joint paper. “The EU could mobilize funding for defense infrastructure projects and common goods that are difficult for member states to develop alone.”

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