EU threatens to halt weapons and ammunition exports to UK if war breaks out with Russia

6 March 2024, 08:57 | Updated: 8 March 2024, 08:40

The EU could block exports of weapons to the UK if a war breaks out with Russia
The EU could block exports of weapons to the UK if a war breaks out with Russia. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The EU has threatened to halt weapons and ammunition exports to the UK if war breaks out with Russia.

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Plans have been drawn up to ban the shipment of arms overseas to make up for the EU's own shortfalls, a top official said.

It comes in a bid to better prepare for the growing threat from Russia while also boosting support for Ukraine.

EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton said: "To counter the return of high-intensity war on our border, we have decided to kick up a gear."

The bloc instead wants to boost joint weapons production among member states to reduce its dependence on other countries such as the US.

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Thierry Breton
Thierry Breton. Picture: Alamy

Mr Breton said: "The European Defence Investment Programme has prioritisation measures in it.

"EDIP contains a fully fledged security of supply pillar that is in it for crisis situations.

"Once this stage is declared, specific measures can be applied, including priority-rated orders on civilian products or defence products depending on the situation."

Josep Borrell, the EU’s top foreign diplomat, said around 40 per cent of the bloc's weapons and ammunition were being shipped overseas.

"We have a powerful industry of defence because we export a lot,” he said.

“Certainly when there is a big push on demand, which might happen with a war, we have to ask for extra input.”

Similar controls were previously introduced during the pandemic, with vaccine shipments being limited.

Josep Borrell
Josep Borrell. Picture: Alamy

Before an export ban is put in place, a vote would have to be held among member states.

The strategy would also limit EU countries wanting to purchase weapons from British companies, with the bloc hoping internal trade of weapons will reach 35 per cent of total value of its defence market by 2030.

Meanwhile, Ukraine will be considered a “quasi member state” after the EU failed to deliver one million artillery shells as promised.