[A-List] EU integration struggles: defence
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Dec 2 03:59:41 MST 2002
French argue for defence cash rise
>From Kellie Mikelsons in Berlin
The Sunday Herald, 1 December 2002
French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie was quoted yesterday as saying
that France was winning the argument in the European Union for stripping out
defence spending from budget deficit calculations.
In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Alliot-Marie reiterated that the
budget rules, set out in the EU Stability and Growth Pact, should not become
a barrier to higher defence spending in the 15-nation bloc. 'I am seeing
more and more EU countries who agree with my proposal,' she said.
Her comments were published a day after German government sources said that
Berlin would slash orders for military Airbus , Eurofighters and other
weapons systems as part of budget cuts.
They also come ahead of a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers tomorrow at
which European Commission proposals to change the focus of the Stability
Pact will be discussed. Germany's 2002 deficit is forecast to bust the EU's
3% of gross domestic product limit and the government has res ponded by
unveiling spending cuts and tax increases for 2003.
Alliot-Marie was quoted as saying German Defence Minister Peter Struck was
among those favourable to her proposal, however a German defence ministry
spokesman declined to comment.
Germany spends around 1.5% of GDP on defence, well below a Nato average of
Alliot-Marie made it clear that France, which plans to raise defence
spending to 2.1% of GDP by 2008, wanted Germany to spend more.
'We expect all countries that want to be part of a European defence union to
follow our example,' she said.
Der Spiegel claimed that as well as cutting its order of A400 military
Airbus transporters from 73 to 60 units, Germany would slash an order for
212 Tiger helicopters to 80 units. To save costs a number of Tornado
fighter-bombers would also be mothballed, and some navy vessels, but the
overall strength of the armed forces would remain at 282,000.
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