Monday

28th Nov 2022

France to sell Mistral warships to EU

  • The Juncker will sail to Luxembourg in July (Photo: David Monniaux)

France is to supply its Mistral warships to the EU foreign service instead of Russia in a move designed to forge a "genuine European defence policy".

The landmark deal comes after EU sanctions over Ukraine, last year, stopped France from transferring one of the two vessels to Russia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It also indicates deep EU scepticism on Moscow promises to make peace.

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini said on Wednesday (1 April): "This purchase, by an EU institution, of two amphibious assault vessels, marks a historic step in 'the framing of a common defence policy', as envisaged in Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty".

"Last year witnessed the eruption of major challenges in the EU neighbourhood … [and] the EU is determined to step up security co-operation".

The French foreign ministry said it "underlines France's commitment to creating a genuine European defence policy".

It also said it'll save French ship-building jobs "at a difficult time".

Under the agreement, the first of the vessels, the "Sevastopol", which is currently undergoing sea trials, is to be handed over to the EU in May.

It will be renamed the "Juncker", after European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, and sail to Riga, the capital of EU presidency Latvia.

The second ship, to be named the "Mogherini", is to be transferred in 2016 and will go to Lampedusa, an island in the EU top diplomat's native Italy.

The €1.2 billion acquisition will be part-funded by the European Central Bank (ECB).

The Mistrals are capable of carrying 16 attack helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armoured vehicles, and 450 soldiers.

The Juncker will be manned by personnel from the Benelux Battle Group, comprising servicemen from Belgium and Luxembourg, but not the Netherlands.

The other 26 member states will be represented in minor capacities, including, for instance, British cooks.

The Juncker will sail under an EU flag, but will be registered in Panama for tax purposes.

It will deploy forces only if Nato declines to act.

The decision to attack is made on the basis a European External Action Service proposal, which must be endorsed by the EU Council's Political and Security Committee and by EU foreign ministers.

The European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions must be "consulted" before action is taken, but have no power of co-decision.

The ECB funding means the Juncker and Mogherini will also host "troikas" — groups of EU experts who ensure that operations are in line with austerity.

The Juncker's first mission is to deter Russian aggression in the Baltic region.

But it will sail to Luxembourg, a landlocked country, when Luxembourg takes over the rotating EU presidency in July.

The Mogherini will stay in Lampedusa.

"It'll defend EU values by detecting irregular migrants on their way to Europe and making sure they go back where they come from", an EU source said.

This article is an April Fool's joke. None of the quotes or information in it are true.

Russia 'pouring' arms into Ukraine

Two days after EU leaders tied Russia sanctions to respect of a ceasefire pact, Nato and the US said Russia is “pouring” arms into Ukraine.

Opinion

A missed opportunity in Kazakhstan

Tokayev received congratulations on his election victory from presidents Xi, Putin, Erdogan, and Lukashenko. However, the phone in the Akorda, Kazakhstan's presidential palace, did not ring with congratulatory calls from Berlin, Paris, London, or Washington.

Agenda

EU's Hungary funds, China, energy, and Frontex This WEEK

In the European Parliament, MEPs will hear from ECB president Christina Lagarde, Kyiv's Vitali Klitschko, and from the three candidates proposed by the EU Commission to be the new boss of EU border agency Frontex.

Agenda

EU's Hungary funds, China, energy, and Frontex This WEEK

In the European Parliament, MEPs will hear from ECB president Christina Lagarde, Kyiv's Vitali Klitschko, and from the three candidates proposed by the EU Commission to be the new boss of EU border agency Frontex.

Opinion

A missed opportunity in Kazakhstan

Tokayev received congratulations on his election victory from presidents Xi, Putin, Erdogan, and Lukashenko. However, the phone in the Akorda, Kazakhstan's presidential palace, did not ring with congratulatory calls from Berlin, Paris, London, or Washington.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Legal scholars: Prosecuting Putin 'legally problematic'
  2. A missed opportunity in Kazakhstan
  3. EU's Hungary funds, China, energy, and Frontex This WEEK
  4. Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges
  5. The 'proof' problem with EU sanctions — and how to fix it
  6. The EU gas cap: will the bottle ever be 'uncorked'?
  7. Enough talk, only rights can eliminate patriarchal violence
  8. Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us