PARIS – France will boost 2017 defense spending by €600 million ($666 million) compared to this year's military budget, President François Hollande said July 13.
That increase was set out in one of the official letters the Prime Minister sent to ministers setting out spending for next year, he said. A €600 million increase was a "strong signal" and showed the government was respecting the 2014-19 multi-year budget law.
The spending rise compares to €32 billion in the revised 2016 defense budget.
Hollande was speaking at a garden reception held by the Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, for the service personnel who will march in the July 14 military parade on the Champs Elysées. Australian and New Zealand forces attended the reception as they will take part in the high profile march, which closes with an extensive fly past by the French Air Force.
Alain Juppé, who served briefly as a defense minister, said in a 25-page campaign note on defense that French spending will need to rise by at least seven billion euros in 2022 if Paris were to hit the NATO target of two percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2025.
Juppé is one of the candidates for the primaries for the conservative party Les Republicains, seeking a selection to be the candidate for the presidential election in May.
The candidates have all pledged to boost defense spending to meet the NATO target, said a defense analyst who declined to be identified. But there was skepticism among the armed forces that campaign pledge will be respected, in view of the poor economic outlook.
Such was the deep doubt, that promise to increase defense spending could be compared to the swift row back in Britain by a far-right politician, Nigel Farage, who said it was a "mistake" to claim the £350 million of contributions to the European Union would be spent on the national health service if UK pulled out of the EU, the specialist said.
A major item "in the pipeline" is future work on a new generation nuclear missile submarine, which could take up an annual five billion to six billion euros, an analyst at a think tank said. That compares to the present estimated three billion euros, or some 10 percent, of the defense budget tied to the present fleet of nuclear missile boats.