PARIS — The military cooperation treaty signed between London and Paris is a non-exclusive arrangement, and France and Italy are seeking to relaunch a European defense initiative around a core of key countries, the French and Italian defense ministers said June 18.
Italian Defense Minister Giampaolo di Paola said he views the Lancaster House treaty signed in 2010 between Britain and France with “respect,” adding, “We have no problem. We see it in a non-exclusive light. That’s the key point.”
France’s defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “I completely agree with this point of view. That’s what I told the British minister when I saw him at the Chicago [NATO] summit.”
Aerospace, UAVs and missile defense are among the areas for bilateral industrial cooperation between France and Italy, di Paola said.
Defense spending is being cut in Europe, pushing governments to pool assets and better manage defense budgets, and America is repositioning forces to the Asia/Pacific and urging Europe to be producers of security, Le Drian told a joint press conference after a working meeting here.
Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain are the key countries around which fresh attempts should be made to build European defense, Le Drian said.
“We want to unite our efforts to relaunch European defense,” Le Drian said in remarks on cooperation with Italy.
Italy has a bilateral agreement with Germany but it is not an exclusive arrangement, di Paola said. The overall approach should be “inclusive, not exclusive,” he said.
France and Italy are partners, operating in theaters including Afghanistan and Libya, on the EU’s Atalanta anti-piracy campaign, and in Kosovo, Le Drian said.
There also is cooperation at the Industrial level, he said.
France and Italy will work together on a “common platform” on defense industrial cooperation to be presented at a bilateral summit in October, Le Drian said.
On the crises in sub-Sahara Africa, there should be a comprehensive European approach, with African countries taking any military role while Europe provides support, Le Drian said.
France and Italy shared an estimated 1 billion euros of development costs for the FREMM multirole frigate now in competition in export markets. MBDA, an Anglo-French-Italian company, works on the Aster surface-to-air missile and is a partner in the American-German-Italian MEADS air defense system, on which Washington has cut development funding.
Under the Lancaster House Treaty, London and Paris signed up for joint development of a new-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance surveillance UAV and a combat UAV.