French defense cuts ‘could harm British military partnership’

The French budget ministry has called for draconian cuts, which will “kill the defence ministry”

From Henry Samuel and Damien McElroy, Telegraph:  French government plans for severe defence cuts could jeopardise its military entente cordiale with Britain, “kill” its conventional army and render interventions such as that in Mali impossible, Gallic defence officials have warned.

Patricia Adam, the Socialist president of the National Assembly’s defence committee, warned that proposed cuts by the budget ministry would see France’s already historically low defence budget cut by a total of €30 billion (£25 billion) by 2020. She said those cuts could see its role in a crucial partnership with Britain fatally weakened. . . .

The defence ministry has seen its annual budget fall from about 2.5 per cent of economic output after the Cold War to 1.56 per cent of GDP, about €31 billion, in 2012. . . .

“By 2015, if we follow this trajectory, all that will be left will be national security, special forces and the nuclear deterrent. All conventional forces will have disappeared,” she [Adam] told Le Monde.

“Plan Z”, as it has been code-named, would lead to 50,000 defence ministry job losses in 2015 — 100,000 by 2020 — and half of the total number of troops and combat aircraft.

A senior French defence official told The Daily Telegraph that while the specific aims of the Lancaster House treaties’ would not be in jeopardy, a series of joint ventures with Britain would be in grave danger of collapsing.

“There would no doubt be a drop in French orders for Airbus A400M military transport planes, which would put into question the financial equilibrium of the entire programme, including for the British,” he warned. . . .

An alternative “Plan Y” would limit the cuts to €15 billion by 2020. Jean-Louis Carrere, the Socialist president of the Senate’s foreign affairs and defence committee, said: “I would ask François Hollande not to choose Y or Z, but to remain at 1.5 per cent GDP. If we want to remain one of the big five in the UN Security Council, let us not drop our guard.”  (photo: Paul Grover/Telegraph)

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