Defending Europe: France Seeks ‘Properly Financed’ European Defence Fund

Written by | Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

The newly-created European Defence Fund (EDF) needed sufficient funding to help boost Europe’s defence as well as SMEs in the defence sector, said Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly when addressing European Parliament’s Security and Defence Subcommittee. Speaking to MEPs, Parly added that the EDF, a new EU defence initiative, could also be “an important tool for economic recovery” from the pandemic. The EDF’s budget is yet to be determined as it forms part of the next multiannual financial framework (MMF) – how is the EU’s long-term budget called – which is due to be discussed at an EU summit on 17 July.
The EDF, which would allow EU militaries to plan, spend and deploy together, was initially hoped to be as much as €13bn but it is now likely to be much less. This is because member states are drastically cutting their defence budgets due to the Coronavirus outbreak. “Europe should not just be an assembly of building blocks but a real force and for this we need the European Defence Fund,” Parly said, recalling that the Finnish government, during its recent EU presidency, had wanted to cut the EDF funding to €6.5bn. “I expressed my strong opposition to this and we had to work hard to increase this sum to €9bn [but] the health crisis has shown how much we need the EU and the EDF can be an important tool for our economic recovery, supporting SMEs in the defence industry. I do believe that the EDF can be a driving force behind the recovery.”
Speaking via a video link from Paris on Thursday, the French minister gave her assessment of the defence and security challenges facing Europe: “A peaceful Europe is not a given and we see threats to our security every day. There are considerable conflicting forces at the gates of Europe including increasing tensions between the US and China, and the erosion of treaties – all of this taking place at a time of great instability.” Parly also stressed that “the security situation has considerably worsened in our neighbourhood, including in Turkey and Libya, and while we are meant to be an alliance we do need better cooperation between the EU and NATO.” Her comments come after it emerged last week that Paris has temporarily withdrawn its troops from a NATO naval operation in the Mediterranean, in a move that indicates there was not enough support from the alliance following an aggressive encounter with Turkish ships last month.

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