France wants to beef up European defence

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Paris sees the need to beef up Europe’s defence industry as continuing European military aid to Ukraine is crucial.

The European Political Community (EPC) takes place on June 1 in Chisinau, Moldova, where heads of state and government will discuss security, energy and connectivity in Europe in the shadow of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Moreover, they will send a strong signal of support to Moldova, which has been experiencing an unprecedented economic and energy crisis for many months and, as a neighbouring country of Ukraine, has already endured the security-related and humanitarian consequences of the war.

The European Political Community, established at the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron in 2022, is a platform for political coordination between European countries across the continent.

It aims to promote political dialogue and cooperation on issues of common interest to strengthen the European continent’s security, stability and prosperity.

Its first meeting took place in October 2022 in Prague.

Some 47 heads of state and government have been invited to attend, including Iceland, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

French diplomatic sources said that participants would discuss cybercrime and the means to protect critical infrastructure.

“We have not explored all the potentials of cooperation with other states to beef up the European defence industry,” said the source.

Diplomats noted the challenges to the architecture of European strategic stability due to Russian aggression and the need to take measures to address them.

They said the EPC allows informal deliberations with no written conclusions, as in the case of the European Council meetings, and for frank and open exchanges on security issues and political crises, such as the war in Ukraine.

The French diplomatic sources said that the EU aid to Ukraine had exceeded €67 bln, of which €14 bln was attributed to military aid.

France has sent to Kyiv equipment of crucial importance: antitank, anti-air missiles, personal protective equipment and personal weapons.

It has been training Ukrainian soldiers, while France has contributed to European aid for Ukraine.

France is the second-largest contributor to the European Peace Facility (EPF), an EU foreign policy financial instrument created in 2021 that has enabled military equipment to be delivered to Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

The facility raised €3.6 bln, adding a further €2 bln in December 2022.

France has donated almost €1 billion as of April 15 2023, equivalent to 18% of the aid to Ukraine via the EPF.

President Macron has announced that France will boost military spending by more than one-third in the coming years, as the budget for 2024-2030 will stand at some €400 bln, up from €295 bln in 2019-2025. (source CNA)