War requires ramping up EU defense industry, Lithuanian president tells EU commissioner

  • 2024-01-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Russia's war against Ukraine and the security situation in Europe and around the world call for boosting EU member states' defense and security industry capabilities, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said as he hosted European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton in Vilnius on Friday.

Nauseda and Breton discussed the utilization and enhancement of the potential of EU member states' defense industries, the new European Defense Industrial Strategy, and military assistance to Ukraine, the Lithuanian president's office said in a press release.  

Nauseda emphasized the importance of the European Commission's efforts in implementing the EU defense industry development guidelines approved by the bloc's leaders at their Versailles summit in 2022.

"It is necessary to utilize and strengthen EU member states' defense industry capabilities to fulfill the European Council's commitments to ensure both the necessary supply of military equipment and ammunition to Ukraine and to meet our defense and security needs," said the president.

According to Nauseda, since 2022, Lithuania has been taking active steps to develop its defense industry: it has consolidated broad political support for the development of the industry and initiated legislative changes to encourage companies' operations and expansion, and is creating new financial instruments.

"The future EU Defense Industrial Strategy must reflect the realities of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the threats it poses, as well as envisage the means and ways to respond swiftly to the changing situation," the president said.

"Providing political support for defense industry investment plans, as well as military support to Ukraine and prioritizing its needs, must be the main short-term priorities for EU defense policy and industry," he added.  

Nauseda also said that the EU defense industry strategy must be geared toward the long-term development of critical defense capabilities and technologies, the expansion of cooperation between EU and NATO bodies, the encouragement of partnerships between companies based in EU and NATO countries, and the expansion of production and the building up of stocks.

In Nauseda's words, it is especially important to ensure the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in defense industry projects, achieve an appropriate balance in the location of defense industry facilities across the EU, and improve access to finance for companies.

Breton also met with Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte in Vilnius on Friday. 

This marks Breton's third trip to Lithuania during this European Commission term. He visited Vilnius in May 2021 and March 2022.

The EU's executive body is drafting the bloc's defense industry strategy, which it plans to unveil at the start of this year.