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Brussels plans to include Ukraine in its facilities as full-fledged EU member at March summit

5 March, 2024 Tuesday
20:40

The EU summit, which is due to take place at the end of this month, is getting too little coverage, but it is even more significant than the February summit and the 50 billion euros

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Two important projects will be presented at the March summit, reports Ukrainian Telegram channel, focused on post-war recovery.

First, a proposal from the European Commission to use the proceeds from the Russian frozen assets to purchase weapons for Ukraine, including outside the EU.

Second, the finalised 'Borrell plan' (he first presented the document at the February summit) on the use of the European Peace Facility, or the creation of a separate long-term fund to support Ukraine in the amount of 20 billion euros for a period of 4 years for the purchase of military equipment and ammunition.

The second point may be combined with the first, i.e. it will be financed by Ursula von der Leyen's proposal. But there is also a new important component that became known on the eve of the presentation of the EU security strategy:

The European Commission will propose that Ukraine join the EU defence industry support scheme, the European Defence Industry Programme (EDIP).

What is it? Ukraine is to be included as a full member of the EU in the European defence programme (which is valid only for full EU members). European media have already published the text of the proposal prepared by the European Commission. 

What does this give Ukraine? This simplifies the organisational and legal interaction between Ukrainian and EU defence industries, but most importantly, it provides funding for the development of Ukrainian defence industry. The EDIP programme operates exclusively between EU members. There are only some exceptions for Norway (which is not a member of the EU).

To understand the extent of this exceptional decision, European publications explain: "During its existence, the EU has never considered any third country (non-EU member) as a full participant in joint schemes, with only a few exceptions for Norway."

Ukraine, on the other hand, wants to be fully involved in joint European arms procurement and funding programmes to strengthen the military-industrial complex, funded by EU programmes. To put it very simply: Ukraine is not an official member of the EU, it does not pay the relevant contributions, but the EU wants to include Ukraine in internal funding programmes.

This is also a protection against various blockades, since the share of "common funds" is approved in the overall budget, and if Hungary decides to "block something", then the budget for all 26 other countries will have to be blocked. 

If the European Commission's proposal for Ukraine's accession to EDIP is approved, the project envisages: a separate budget for the development, modernisation, and purchase of equipment for Ukraine's defence industry (at least €1.5 billion for this component alone), joint procurement of weapons, VAT exemption in case of joint ownership (joint ventures), and more.

The EDIP Regulation was presented by the European Commission on March 5, together with the EU's comprehensive political defence strategy, and is to be approved at the summit. Hungary's attempt to block Ukraine at the summit will also block the approval of the EU defence strategy and the corresponding budgets for all EU member states under EDIP.

According to the draft text, Ukraine will have to comply with several rules to be considered an EU member state in joint programmes. "It lists the key 'precondition' - the rule of law - as a reminder of what it (Ukraine/authorities) must adhere to on its way to accession," European publications note. 

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