Defense Budget Crisis May Leave Lasting Marks on France’s Military

Defense Budget Crisis May Leave Lasting Marks on France’s Military

A serious crisis played out during the past month over the future of France’s defense budget, pitting the pared-down and overstretched Defense Ministry against the cost-cutters of the Budget Ministry. Though the Defense Ministry has been spared for now, the fallout may leave lasting marks on the French military leadership’s morale, and on the country’s reputation as a European defense leader.

In the first 18 months of Francois Hollande’s presidency, France underwent a full defense review. The financial crisis and geopolitical changes, it was believed, warranted a revision of the country’s 2008 Defense White Paper. Moreover, a new Military Program Law (MPL), or multiyear defense plan, had to be drafted, since the previous one was valid only until 2014.

The White Paper, published in April 2013, and the MPL, passed in December, were tough exercises. Several defense models were designed to take into account budgetary constraints. “Bercy,” as the Budget Ministry is nicknamed after its location, pushed for the so-called Z model, which, by slashing the defense budget from roughly 32 billion euros to between 25 billion and 30 billion euros per year through 2019, would have forced France to give up significant capabilities, such as its only aircraft carrier and its heavy tanks. Its adoption would also have had major political effects, including the loss of France’s status and role as a key global military player.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.