Aimed at setting the strategic framework for the update of the Military Programming Act 2019-2025, which should increase France’s defense effort to 2% of its GDP by 2025, the Strategic Review of Defense and National Security was officially handed over to the Head of State on 13 October. It should be presented to the chairmen of the relevant committees of both assemblies in the coming days.
Towards an innovative reinforcement of military capabilities?
Under the authority of Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, the Drafting Committee recommends in particular the preservation of a complete and balanced army model, to have an expert knowledge of advanced high-tech and industrial technologies.
The renewal of European dynamics is necessary in order to cope with better armed opponents and new conflicts.
France intends to participate actively in the development of a strong and coherent European defense industry, notably through the activation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) – provided by the Lisbon Treaty – and its involvement in the creation of a European Defense Fund (EDF).
But this is not without costs and implies a ramp-up over the coming years of the resources allocated to defense at national and European level.
First step proposed: to provide Europe with a common intervention force
In an international context under pressure in the face of what the Strategic Review refers to as “hardening and spreading threats”, Europe’s taking over of a common defense policy seems important.
The challenge is also to face the unpredictability of its partner across the Atlantic, given Donald Trump’s speech at the NATO summit on May 25, on the lack of participation in the NATO budget of some European countries.
Overall, France wants to strengthen “Europe of defense”: shared security interests, common policy and budgetary instruments and an ambitious framework for cooperation with the European intervention initiative announced by Macron in his speech at the Sorbonne on September 26th.
The security challenge: still a priority for European policies?
With a budget of 315 billion euro of investment allocated to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (Plan Juncker) for the period 2015-2017, the security challenge has been identified as a priority by the Member States.
As the driving force behind this investment, European Research and Innovation is to be allocated 139 million for the 2018-2020 budget through its Horizon 2020 funding program.
Beyond that, other schemes also support projects to ensure the coherence of Union actions such as the Instrument for Stability and Peace (IcSP), the mechanism for interconnection in Europe, to face the new cybersecurity challenges.
The question now is whether France’s proposals will be supported by its European partners.