Thursday

18th Oct 2018

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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.

No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue

British prime minister Theresa May addressed the EU-27 leaders after the apparent breakdown of Brexit talks and told them the UK is open to considering a longer transition period. But even a November 'emergency' summit is not yet certain.

May faces EU leaders head-to-head as Brexit deal falters

The EU is open to extending a proposed Brexit transition period for another year, as Theresa May arrives in Brussels to brief EU leaders on how she sees the way forward in highly-precarious Brexit negotiations.

News in Brief

  1. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  2. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  3. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  4. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules
  5. Barnier open to extending Brexit transition period
  6. Juncker mulls rejection of Italy's 2019 budget
  7. German justice minister to lead SPD in European elections
  8. Tusk: May should come with new Brexit proposals

Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay

The power of the parliament to 'appoint' the president of the EU Commission is new, highly-contested - and not universally understood. In fact, even some of the lead candidates to replace Jean-Claude Juncker are against it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them
  2. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue
  3. May faces EU leaders head-to-head as Brexit deal falters
  4. Nordic region's top bank in new Russia funds complaint
  5. Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay
  6. EU ministers struggle to deal with Poland and Hungary
  7. Commission tried to hide details of 'WiFi4EU' glitch
  8. Brexit standoff continues before EU summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us