EU aims to team up with defence industry to speed up ammunition output

Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich

MUNICH (Reuters) - The European Union aims to join forces with the bloc's defence industry to speed up and scale up the production of ammunition badly needed on the battlefield in Ukraine and to replenish military stocks at home, its chief said on Saturday.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen suggested the bloc should do what it did during the pandemic to prepare for the large-scale production of a COVID vaccine.

"We could think of, for example, advanced purchase agreements that give the defence industry the possibility to invest in production lines now to be faster and to increase the amount they can deliver," she said.

Von der Leyen underlined that the bloc could not wait for months and years to be able to replenish its own military stocks or send munitions such as 155mm artillery shells to Ukraine.

"It is now the time, really, to speed up the production, and to scale up the production of standardized products that Ukraine needs desperately, for example standardized ammunition," she said.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; editing by Matthias Williams)