France and Germany to coordinate defence spending cuts
By Honor Mahony
France and Germany are intending to co-ordinate defence spending cuts in a bid to ensure that joint programmes are not endangered by unilateral moves to rein in monies spent on military issues.
According to a report in German daily Handelsblatt, German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and his French counterpart Herve Morin on Wednesday (21 July) agreed in Paris to set up a working group to look into the matter, with a first meeting set for beginning of September.
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One of the themes of the group will be to see where savings can be made as well on major projects such as the building of the troubled A400m military transporter - already four years late and billions of euros over budget.
"We want to avoid that Germany or France take unilateral decisions that endanger common projects," said Mr Morin.
Once considered a political taboo, a move to coordinate the streamlining of defence budgets among some member states is now something of a necessity as all governments tighten their belts in the face of the economic crisis.
Both ministers also said they were convinced that a pan-European arms industry would develop. At the moment, there is a little co-ordination among member states, with governments spending differing amounts of GDP on defence and often investing in overlapping or similar programmes.
Meanwhile, the Irish Times has reported that Dublin is pushing for deeper EU military co-operation with the UN.
In an informal paper presented to other member states, Ireland says the EU should look to how it can extend its support for the UN.
The paper suggests going beyond separate EU-led and UN-led missions "to the concept of EU force components forming an integral component of a UN 'blue helmet' operation."