BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders will back a change to the lending policy of the European Investment Bank, so that the huge European government-owned lender can finance defence projects, draft conclusions of the leaders’ summit next week said.

The executive European Commission called on the EIB last week to change its lending policy, which now explicitly excludes lending for purely military projects, to help Europe ramp up its defence production following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But some EU governments, especially neutral countries, have been reluctant, concerned that financing defence could hurt the EIB’s top credit rating and not address the problem, which they say is not a lack of funding, but of long-term contracts.

“Increasing defence readiness will contribute to enhancing the Union’s sovereignty and will require additional efforts to … improve the European defence industry’s access to public and private finance, including through the European Investment Bank by inter alia reconsidering the definition of dual use goods and the defence industry lending policy,” the draft conclusions, seen by Reuters, said.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, editing by Inti Landauro)

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