On the 24th February 2022, the war began in Ukraine, which was militarily attacked by the Russian Federation. However, the clashes between Russia and Ukraine had started long before, and peaked in February 2022, reaching a point of no return.
The war in Ukraine has been going on for over a year and does not seem to be stopping. It is therefore increasingly crucial to move the two nations towards a process that will ultimately result in a just and lasting peace. In this process, the European Union plays a key role, being a protagonist in the crisis not only because of its geographical proximity, but also because of its ideological proximity to Kiev.
The EU family on the Ukrainian issue showed all its unity and compactness, and decide to support Ukraine from the very beginning. Even today, the EU is fighting alongside the Ukrainian people to protect the integrity, sovereignty and independence of the whole country. Ukraine is a central issue on the European political agenda. And in fact, the European institutions work tirelessly to protect the Ukrainian people and also all European citizens and the principles on which the European Union itself was born.
As regards Russia, the EU has expressed its firm condemnation of illegitimate and unjustified aggression. In this view, the EU has so far proposed 11 sanctions packages against Russia.
This series of sanctions is aimed at weakening Russia’s strength, affecting every possible sector. The measures against Russian power have included a ban on exports of goods to Russia, restrictions in trade and transport, and hitting the Russian energy sector. In addition to this, all transactions with the Russian National Central Bank were banned. Thus, an attempt was made to hit Russia’s economy, trying to freeze it and put it in a critical situation. Finally, strong limitations in terms of information have come from Europe. In fact, Russia is using many media channels as a propaganda tool, spreading fake news or misrepresenting the news, conducting real disinformation campaigns, also providing a distorted view of the causes and development of the war with Ukraine. For this reason, the EU has decided to place restrictions on all such media broadcasting and distribution in or to EU member states.
So far, the EU has engaged in many different actions in support of Ukraine. The aim is not only to provide support for as long as it is needed, but also to work on the reconstruction of the country once hostilities have ended and help it in its recovery, so as to give it all the tools it needs to create a free and peaceful future for itself.
The European Union provides a great support in humanitarian, financial and military terms to the Ukrainian cause. In particular, special tools were activated to deal with this issue, such as the so-called European Peace Facility (Epf) which is an instrument that was established in 2021 to preserve peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security and that was crucial with the start of the war in Ukraine. But we can also remember that in March 2023 the Eu decided to give a loan of €18 billion to meet the basic financial needs of the Ukrainian government.
Furthermore, to show its closeness, Ukraine was granted candidate status at the EU Council of the 23th June 2023. This represents an important signal that makes clear that the European Union stands with Kiev. And this event declares that the EU also support Ukraine and its people from a formal political point of view.
In July 2023, the EU took another important step forward in its support for Ukraine, confirming its intention to continue supporting the Ukrainian people for as long as it is necessary and until a real just peace is achieved.
Indeed, on Thursday, 13 July 2023, the European Parliament met to discuss ‘The Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing the Act in Support of Ammunition Production’.
In terms of production of ammunition, it should be mentioned that EU support was substantial. However, due to a previous lack of investment in the defence and arms production sector on the European side, the member states, while voluntarily and constantly pledging to supply arms to Ukraine, experienced a major crisis in the sector. And among other things, it often happened that the military support promised to the Ukrainians did not arrive in time for the needs of war, precisely because of the lack of European productivity.
This being the case, the need to intervene in the military production sector, so as to be able to provide the appropriate support to the Ukrainian army, in the right way and at the right time, became increasingly apparent.
And so, the Members of the European Parliament decided to pass new measures to help increase the production of missiles and ammunition within the European Union, thus remedying the current shortage experienced by the member states and the EU as a whole.
The proposal that was recently discussed intends to speed up the delivery of munitions and missiles to Ukraine and help EU countries restock their arsenals. The main objective of this tool is to support Ukraine in a more efficient and rapid way, especially focusing on military support.
During negotiations with the Council, MEPs ensured that a wider range of projects would be funded and that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would receive a higher share of the funding. They made sure that the new funds would not come at the expense of existing cohesion funds. MEPs also pushed for EU countries to provide Ukraine with ammunition financed under the legislation without export restrictions.
The so-called ASAP, which stands for Arms Production Assistance Package, includes €500 million in financing. This support will come from two European funds: the European Defence Fund (Edf, which will provide €260 million) and the European defence industry reinforcement through common procurement act (Edirpa, which will provide €240 millions).
ASAP was finally adopted by the Parliament by 505 votes to 56, with 21 abstentions.
This proposal is a fundamental tool in order increase the EU’s production capacity to meet the current shortage of defence products, in particular artillery ammunition, missiles and their components.
This initiative was strongly supported by the Ecr Group, which considers essential that support for Ukraine has a strong and solid basis, also and above all in terms of military aid. “Ukraine needs ammunition and missiles, and our own stocks are running out. We need to increase production, also to support Ukraine’s counter-offensive to retake its territories where the Russian aggressor’s troops are still standing”, said ECR shadow rapporteur Zdzisław Krasnodębski. He also added that: “The Ukrainians’ fight against a barbaric aggressor is just. That is why the European Union must demonstrate its ability to act if we do not want to lose the trust of our friends who are fighting for our common values”.
The legislative text adopted by the European Parliament will now have to be formally approved by the Council and then become law.
Today there it seems to be no particular reason why this should not happen. This shows how the European Union is able to be united on a cross-cutting issue that is central to all member states, such as support for Ukraine. Supporting Ukraine also means supporting European values and freedoms, its citizens and their fundamental rights. The only way to prevent the conflict from crossing borders and spilling over onto EU territory is to continue to provide support for the Ukrainian cause. A support that must first and foremost be military. The ASAP text therefore represents a turning point in European policy, which is beginning to realise how essential it is to focus on a common defence and foreign policy so that the common interests of the whole European Union are respected and protected.