France to boost military spending

The French defence minister, Florence Parly, presented a bill foreseeing 295 billion euros in overall defence spending from 2019 to 2025. She sees the budget law as a “renewal,” as the government seeks to “regenerate” the services.

An increase of 40% of the defence budget

In accordance with commitments made by NATO member countries, France aims to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP in 2025, according to the Military Programme Law (MPL). This is an increase of over 40%.

A first phase consists of €198 billion in the present five-year government term, with defense spending rising €1.7 billion each year to hit €44 billion in 2023. The French defence minister insisted that France needs more defence spending to maintain its global influence and « intervene where its interests are threatened, and where it’s needed for international stability ».

France has thousands of troops overseas, from the Middle East to Africa, and will be the EU’s only nuclear-armed nation when Britain leaves the bloc next year.

« We need a full defence capability, a modern, powerful force that is responsive and looks to the future » (French President Emmanuel Macron)

Army and nuclear deterrent for priorities

The Army and nuclear deterrent were seen as major beneficiaries of the budget.

Spending on buildings and infrastructure for the services will rise 14 %.

After cutting 60,000 posts between 2005 and 2015, the defence ministry said it will create 6,000 new ones by 2025, half of these by 2023, with an emphasis on cyber security and intelligence.

France, which has thousands of troops overseas, will also boost spending on equipment, from bullet-proof vests to combat uniforms as well as maintenance and infrastructure. There will be a 34 % rise in spending on « modernising weaponry » including new Scorpion armoured vehicles, four Barracuda attack submarines and three multi-mission frigates, as well as a new fleet of Griffon multi-role armoured vehicles. The plan also provides new spy satellites, light surveillance planes, Rafale fighter jets and armed drones, as well as new refuelling planes.

France’s nuclear deterrent will receive €37 billion by 2025, with work started on a third generation nuclear submarine programme and new airborne nuclear missiles.

Finally, some €17 billion will be earmarked for innovation to maintain « future operational superiority », including research into a successor to the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, which will retire by 2040.

The bill will go to parliament, where it is expected to face a few months of discussion before a final vote this summer.

Credit photo: ©AUDE LEROY / EUROPE 1

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