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France opposes NATO budget increase

Source : 112 Ukraine

The country is ready to listen to counterarguments and details of the proposed plan
19:55, 29 May 2021

French President Emmanuel Macron
Reuters

A $20 billion plan to give NATO more flexibility in facing military threats, climate change and China's rise has hit firm resistance from France, which fears the move could undermine its defence priorities, four diplomats and a French defence source said. This is reported by Reuters.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg proposed in February that allies put more money directly into existing, albeit small common budgets, rather than rely on the current system that each government pays for its own military operations.

That was a response to long-standing tensions with the United States which says European allies do not contribute enough to their own defence. A deal at a June 14 summit with U.S. President Joe Biden would likely shore up transatlantic unity, two of the four diplomats who spoke to Reuters said.

The proposal also seeks to heed French President Emmanuel Macron's 2019 warning that NATO was "brain dead" because the alliance, formed in 1949 to contain a military threat from the Soviet Union, lacked a clear political strategy in the post-Cold War, multipolar world.

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But France believes the idea - which the diplomats said was to put some $20 billion into common budgets over 10 years - is unlikely to benefit French military priorities and risks diverting attention and resources away from building up weak defence capabilities among European Union member states. Most of them are also part of NATO.

"If the idea is to brutally increase the contribution of countries to common budgets and change the philosophy of NATO, moving from national responsibility to the dilution of responsibility, France's response will be clearly no," a French armed forces ministry source told.

The EU has been working since December 2017 to develop more firepower independently of the United States, led by France, the EU's remaining major military power after Britain left the bloc.

"For us, it is not an issue of NATO versus Europe but NATO versus the national defence of each member state," the French armed forces ministry source said.

The source said Paris was still open to hearing counter arguments and details, however. France already meets NATO's target to spend 2% of economic output on defence.

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