France and Germany sign new defense agreement

Germany and France aim to improve joint projects such as the Tiger helicopter

From Sabine Siebold, Reuters:  Germany and France agreed on Thursday to deepen military cooperation in areas ranging from satellites and missile defense to arms procurement, aiming to extract maximum value from shrinking defense budgets.

The agreement, signed by the two governments in Paris on Thursday, highlights Europe’s drive to reduce costly duplication in defense and achieve economies of scale as it struggles to cut spending and tame its sovereign debt crisis.

A copy of the declaration of intent was seen by Reuters before the signing at the Eurosatory arms show near Paris.

Under the accord, NATO allies Germany and France aim to coordinate new purchases of tanks and artillery, to better integrate the Tiger and NH-90 helicopter projects and to explore possible cooperation on missile defense.

Other countries, such as Italy, could also participate.

Germany, France and Britain also plan to look into developing a European drone, the declaration said.

"We must build a platform that others can join," German Deputy Defence Minister Stephane Beemelmans told Reuters in Berlin. "Germany and France have often done this and that is what we want to do once again. . . ."

Governments in Europe and the United States are responding to the euro zone debt crisis and budget deficits by cutting defence spending. That is spurring a drive by NATO and the European Union to reduce duplication of defence equipment and to save money by sharing some capabilities. . . .

Under the agreement, France and Germany will set up working groups to identify projects for cooperation and a roadmap reaching to 2030. . . .

The working groups are due to deliver a final report by December and the starting date for the first project should coincide with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Elysee Treaty in January 2013, he [Beemelmans] said.   (photo: Reuters)

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