In a ‘watershed moment’ for its defence policy, the EU on Sunday (27 February) agreed to unblock some €500 million for members states to buy arms for Ukraine’s armed forces, hoping to stop Russia’s invasion.
“Another taboo has fallen these days – the taboo that the EU cannot use its resources to provide arms to a country that is being aggressed by another,” EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said as EU foreign ministers met to green-light the unprecedented step.
EU treaties prohibit the bloc from using its regular multiannual budget to fund operations with military or defence implications.
That is why, under the unveiled plans, the EU will use an off-budget so-called ‘European Peace Facility’ (EPF) financing instrument with a ceiling of €5 billion that can be used to provide military aid.
The only recently created intergovernmental fund had opened the door for the bloc to deliver military aid to partner countries and finance the deployment of its military missions abroad.
Borrell said the EU had agreed “to provide arms — lethal arms, lethal assistance — to the Ukrainian army for a value of €450 million support package and €50 million more for the non-lethal supplies – fuel and protective equipment.”
The EPF would be used to coordinate shipments and other logistics.
EU defence ministers will meet virtually on Monday (28 January) to iron out the technical details of the mechanism.
The EU in December already decided to start providing security aid to Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova from this year under the instrument.
“For the first time ever, the EU will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday (28 February).
“This is a watershed moment,” she added.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]