French MPs approve huge boost in military spending, spurred by Ukraine war

Spurred on by the Russia-Ukraine war and fast-growing global threats, the French parliament on Thursday approved billion-euro increases in military spending for the rest of the decade.


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French President Emmanuel Macron has pushed for an expanded budget to spend 413 billion euros ($450 billion), the biggest increase in spending in half a century. The money will be used to modernize France’s nuclear arsenal, increase intelligence spending and develop more remote-controlled weapons.

Economic growth, he argued, needs to be fueled to ensure “our liberty, our security, our prosperity, and our place in the world.” The defense minister compared it to France’s push to develop nuclear weapons in the 1960s, making the country one of the world’s most powerful military powers.

The new military plan includes doubling the number of reservists, beefing up cyber defenses and boosting weapons production to help Ukraine and keep French troops well supplied.

The new budget for the 2024-2030 period is more than a third higher than the previous 2019-2025 military spending plan of 295 billion euros.

The bill received final approval from the divided National Assembly (the lower house of parliament) on Wednesday in a vote of 244 to 37, and the conservative-led Senate on Thursday by a vote of 313 to 17.

Macron’s centrist coalition doesn’t have a majority in either house of parliament, but military officials have long bemoaned cutbacks in armed forces spending, while conservative and far-right parties tend to favor defense investment.

Macron is due to speak to defense officials later on Thursday on the eve of Bastille Day celebrations, which include an elaborate military parade in Paris displaying troops, warplanes and military equipment.

(Associated Press)

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