Tuesday

19th Nov 2019

France to sell Mistral warships to EU

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

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

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”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

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

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.

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.

EU agrees 2020 budget deal

EU governments and the parliament agreed in marathon talks ino next year's budget - which will boost spending on climate, border protection, and the European satellite system. It will also be a benchmark if there is no long-term budget deal.

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

News in Brief

  1. European populists more favourable to Russia
  2. Hungary's new commissioner approved by MEPs
  3. Balkan coal power plants fail to meet emissions targets
  4. Belarus vote: zero opposition candidates elected
  5. Germany: Tehran should hold dialogue with protesters
  6. US ex-diplomat: Trump's 'historical mistake' on EU
  7. France's MoDem finance director indicted on EP funds
  8. Cyprus hopes for reunification talks in December

Feature

Migrants in Malmo - separating fact from fiction

Despite the neighbourhood's beautiful name, the reputation of Rosengård (Rose Garden) does not so much evoke images of roses as headlines of crime and social challenges. This area of Malmö has been struggling with its notorious, mythical, image for years.

Agenda

Key moments for new commission This WEEK

MEPs will decide on Monday if they want the Hungarian commissioner-designate to come back for a second hearing, as commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen hopes to finally take office on 1 December.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us