Josep Borrell called for greater investment in the EU's military industry in the face of future challenges following the demands of the conflict on Ukrainian territory

Ukraine war drains EU military resources

AFP/BARTEK SADWSKI - EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks during a press conference at the EUMAM training mission centre

Josep Borrell, the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Policy, said that European military reserves are "depleted" due to the war in Ukraine following the invasion carried out by Vladimir Putin's Russia. 

The EU "lacks the necessary defence capabilities" to face future threats, as Josep Borrell himself indicated, stressing that the war on Ukrainian territory has revealed "the insufficiency of our military stocks" and "the fragility of our supply chains". This is very alarming in case other dangers arise in the future that threaten EU security.

The EU official described this war as a "warning" about the EU's military capabilities. "We spared no effort to provide arms to Ukraine. But we realised that our military reserves have been exhausted," said Borrell, who also noted that "we lack important defence capabilities to protect ourselves".


European countries have earmarked 8 billion euros to arm Ukraine, and it shows. The stockpile of European weapons destined for Ukraine is practically exhausted, and this puts European security at risk in the future.

In spite of everything, the Spanish diplomat in charge of EU foreign relations indicated that European collaboration in security and defence matters "has begun to bear fruit", taking into account the element of the European Defence Agency and assistance to EU member states with a view to "developing their defence".

Josep Borrell explained that this week the European Defence Agency published "two very important documents", which provide an insight into the European defence scenario, stating that "the current geopolitical situation has given greater importance" to these two reports. 


The EU's High Representative for Foreign Policy stressed that "the starting point for our discussions is the Russian war against Ukraine", emphasising the importance of "supporting Ukraine, politically, economically and militarily, so that it can expel the invaders", stressing that "we must be able to play this role as necessary for Ukraine to achieve victory". 

According to data from the European Defence Agency, the volume of defence spending within the European Union increased in 2021 to €214 billion, an increase equivalent to 6% compared to 2020, and the strongest annual growth rate since 2015. Borrell considered that these figures "are still far from the 2% that NATO sets as the norm for member states".  He added that "there is a big difference between member states in general, with member states spending an average of 1.5% of their GDP on defence, while "there are five countries that increased their defence spending by 20% or more last year, including one with 42%". 

And he considered that "it is good that the European Defence Agency reports show that last year we saw a record level of defence investment of 52 billion euros, equivalent to 24% of total defence spending, and that, for the third year in a row, we have exceeded the agreed standard of 20%".


The figures indicate that we are on the right track, "but not far enough", as Borrell acknowledged, and he stressed the need to strengthen "cooperation" and advocated increasing investment in the short term and the joint purchase of material, given that "our stocks are not sufficient and our supply chains are fragile".

Josep Borrell stressed the need for Europe to "take more responsibility for its security". "To achieve this, more cooperation is needed to provide us with the defence capabilities we need", he remarked.  


The Spanish diplomat called for "preventing fragmentation and deepening cohesion by developing the national plans of the Member States from the perspective of the European Union", stressing that they should "systematically plan and develop their cooperation capabilities". For Josep Borrell, the depletion of European arms reserves is due to the fact that the EU military-industrial complex has not received the necessary European funding in recent years, and the problem is now surfacing in the face of the demand for support for the Ukrainian armed forces to confront the Russian invasion. "The war in Ukraine was a rude awakening for many of us, for all of us. There is no doubt that this is a wake-up call. We are aware that our military arsenals have been rapidly depleted by years of underinvestment. Let me say that I know the public prefers butter to guns, but for years there has been under-investment," Borrell said in a recent appearance in Brussels.