BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union on Wednesday urged the bloc’s defense ministers to coordinate arms purchases, to secure better terms from suppliers as they seek to replenish supplies depleted by shipments to Ukraine.

Western countries rushed to restock arms and ammunition after shipping huge quantities to Kyiv, forcing the industry to expand to meet growing demand.

“There is an urgent need to restore the state of readiness of our European armed forces and to replenish depleted stocks,” Stijn Mols, head of the security and defense division of the EU diplomatic service, told a committee of the European Parliament. .

EU defense ministers will then meet on Nov. 15, and Mols said he hoped they would come up with concrete proposals for coordinated arms purchases.

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

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Defense purchases in the EU are rarely done jointly, with countries keen to support their national industries.

“Now is really an opportunity for all of us to set aside those long-standing national interests,” Mols said.

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

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

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

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