French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a substantial boost in military spending until the end of the decade to face evolving threats.
He announced plans for 413 billion euros (£361 billion) in military spending from 2024 to 2030 to ensure “our freedom, our security, our prosperity, our place in the world”.
That compares with spending of about 295 billion euros (£258.5 billion) in a similar military plan for 2019 to 2025.
Mr Macron made the announcement in a speech addressing a new defence strategy in the wake of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine and other threats.
The money would notably go to modernising France’s nuclear arsenal, boosting intelligence spending by 60%, doubling the number of military reservists, reinforcing cyber-defence and developing more remote-controlled weapons.
“Nuclear deterrence is an element that makes France different from other countries in Europe. We see anew, in analysing the war in Ukraine, its vital importance,” he said in a speech to military personnel at an air base in Mont-de-Marsan in south-west France.
France is the only member of the 27-nation European Union with nuclear weapons and the bloc is still largely dependent on the US and Nato for defence.
Mr Macron also wants to expand French submarine surveillance capacity to depths of 6,000 metres (nearly 20,000 feet), both for military reasons and to protect critical infrastructure such as undersea cables carrying energy and information across oceans that have come under threat.
Friday’s speech comes as defence officials from the US and allies meet in Ramstein, Germany, to discuss more help for Ukraine.
Mr Macron did not address Ukraine’s pleas to supply French Leclerc tanks — even after a tongue-in-cheek video released on Thursday by Ukraine’s defence ministry vaunting the tanks as “compact, sporty, easy to park” and quoting French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
France has already provided Ukraine with 18 Caesar cannons, six TRF1 cannons, two Crotale air defence systems, rocket launcher units, anti-tank and anti-air weapons, armoured vehicles, munitions, protective gear, medical equipment and military rations, according to Mr Macron’s office.
Earlier this month, France agreed to send AMX-10 RC armoured surveillance and combat vehicles that in French are called “light tanks”.
France is also aiming to train at least 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers as part of EU-wide training efforts.
“What we are experiencing on European soil for the past year in Ukraine teaches us lessons,” Mr Macron said.
“The threats are multiple and mix together,” he said. “There is no longer a peace dividend because of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine… The international order has ceded to a state of play between nations like we have not seen in decades.”
Mr Macron noted threats from hybrid warfare, cyber-attacks and continued threats from terrorism and called for boosting the production capacity of the arms industry to be able to help Ukraine and supply the French military.
Among lessons of the Ukraine war, Mr Macron’s office said the French military needs to be more reactive and ready for quick deployments and have equipment that performs well, logistical support and ammunition.
Mr Macron wants France’s military strategy to strengthen the country’s role as an independent global power. He called for reinforcing military partnerships with European neighbours as well as countries like Egypt, India, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and in Africa.
The new budget plan will need parliamentary approval. Mr Macron’s centrist alliance does not have a majority in either house of parliament but military officers have long lamented shrinking spending on the armed forces and conservative and far-right parties tend to support investment in defence.
France’s military budget reached 1.9% of gross domestic product in 2021, with a goal to reach 2% by 2025, as per Nato expectations.