European Defence Union ASAP: the Act in support of ammunition production and the development of EU defence capabilities in response to the war in Ukraine

Federico Fabbrini

November 2023

This paper examines the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) – a regulation adopted by the European Union (EU) in July 2023 to boost the production capabilities of the EU defence industry with a view to supporting Ukraine in the war against Russia. The article explains the context in which the regulation was adopted, examines its content, and discusses its consequences for EU integration in the field of defence. At the same time, however, it also considers some critical aspects of ASAP, highlighting the limitations of the regulation approved by the European Parliament and the Council – particularly when compared with the original proposal of the European Commission. As the paper argues, the ASAP regulation endeavours to support the capacity of the EU defence industry to live up to the challenges posed by the war in Ukraine, funding with EU money ammunitions’ production and procurement. At the same time, ASAP also positions the EU to address in a supranational way a more threatening geo-strategic environment. From this point of view, therefore, the ASAP is a step in the direction of establishing a European defence union, seen both as a combination of military capability and industrial capacity.  Nevertheless, ASAP falls well short of an EU equivalent of the United States’ Defence Production Act, which suggests that further steps are needed towards the establishment of a real EU defence union. Yet, as the war in Ukraine turns into an ongoing conflict of attrition, the article posits that such a union would be needed – asap.

Keywords: ammunition, ASAP, CFSP, CSDP, EU defence union, EU industrial policy, Ukraine.

Federico Fabbrini is Full Professor of Law at Dublin City University and Fellow, RSCAS, European University Institute

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A revised version of this article  is forthcoming in 29 European Foreign Affairs Review (2024)

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