PARIS ― France has added €1.8 billion (U.S. $2.1 billion) funding to its 2018 defense budget to hit €34.2 billion as part of a planned rise in military spending over the next five years, the Economy and Finance Ministry said.
Asset sales will add further funds to bring total defense spending next year to €34.4 billion, the ministry added.
That 2018 budget compares to an initial 2017 defense budget of €32.7 billion, which recently took an unexpected cut of €850 million on equipment orders in a bid to trim government spending.
The €1.8 billion boost will raise defense spending to 1.82 percent of gross domestic product, compared to 1.77 percent this year, in an attempt to reach some €50 billion by 2025, excluding pensions, which is the 2 percent target set by NATO.
After the initial increase, military spending will rise by an annual €1.7 billion to 2022.
“This will constitute the most significant increase in defense spending in five consecutive years since 1981,” the ministry said.
Funds earmarked for overseas operations will rise over the five years to €1.1 billion from the current €450 million, with the Armed Forces Ministry funding the full weight of combat deployments rather than sharing part of the costs with other ministries.
The spending for equipment maintenance will receive an extra €450 million, reflecting the high rate of use in combat missions in Africa and the Middle East.
The €850 million cut this year was a highly visible sign by President Emmanuel Macron to slash the national deficit as requested by the European Commission. That budget trimming sparked the resignation of Army Gen. Pierre de Villiers, former chief of staff.
Some 35 percent of the 2018 budget is earmarked for equipment procurement and maintenance, 34 percent for personnel, and 12 percent on the nuclear deterrent, the Economy and Finance Ministry said.
That acquisition spending amounts to €10.2 billion, up 2 percentage points on this year’s budget, website La Tribune reported.
Military spending is the third largest item in the French national budget, after education and repayment of government debt.