Investments in the European defense industry and its capacity must increase to bolster the EU and Ukraine's military resilience, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said at the European Council meeting of heads of state and government in Brussels on Friday.
"Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has forced us to take bolder action, and we are making progress," she said. "NATO defense plans are in place, so now we must turn our attention to collective defense investments. The next steps we take must include enhancing our stocks of equipment and weapons systems. We must also invest more in the defense sector."
Kallas said defense readiness needs to be ensured at all times. She said steps such as further integration of the defense market and compatibility of standards should be taken.
The European Commission will present its European Defence Industrial Strategy in early 2024.
This could see the European Defence Fund increase by €1.5 billion, but Kallas said this is not enough.
The Council has decided that the European Investment Bank must also play a greater role in guaranteeing financing opportunities in the sphere of defense, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.
Estonia also backs the increased defense spending of Member States being taken into consideration in reviews of EU rules for national budgets when the European Commission assesses the budget deficit and debt level.
Kallas is attending the European Council meeting which began on Thursday. Yesterday the meeting focused on EU enlargement and support for Ukraine. Today leaders tackled the the mid-term revision of the union's long-term budget for the next four years.
Estonia's defense spending exceeded €1 billion for the first time in 2023.
Editor: Helen Wright