Defense: Senate passes budget affected by war in Ukraine and inflation

“This 2023 budget is the most important budget for our military since World War II.” On the strength of this observation, the introduction of loans for the defense mission was almost a walk in the park for Minister Sébastien Lecornu.

It must be admitted that the budget with 44 billion payment allocations for next year is 6%, i.e. 3 billion more than last year. “This is a transitional budget. Because it will be the first country to reach the three billion euro milestone to reach 50 billion in 2025. It will also be the last LPM (military programming law) to be put on the ballot in 2018, then act as a springboard to the next LPM. , “said Christian Kambon, LR president of the armed forces commission.

“We have to ask ourselves if the directions we are taking are correct”

The draft military programming law (LPM) for 2024-2030, which is expected in the coming months, will take place in a particularly sensitive context: on the one hand, the rise of international tension and the war in Ukraine creates a problem. France’s strategic independence, on the other hand, the deteriorating financial situation. “As we look to the future, we must ask ourselves if the directions taken are the right ones and if the pace of progress is right?” ” Christian Cambon recalled.

Indeed, if all the political groups gave a positive opinion and accepted these allocations, many questions caused stagnation in the session. First, the impact of inflation on the budget of the army is estimated at 1 billion euros, while 3 billion are on the financing of this increase. In order to prevent inflation from absorbing a third of the increase in loans, the government preferred to postpone payments until 2024. “This approach, which is tantamount to creating debt in debt, seems to me disingenuous,” replied the finance commission’s special rapporteur, Dominic Legg.

“This is an old practice. It is not disingenuous because we have documented it in parliament. This is a risk we take, but it is not budget insincerity,” the Minister of Armed Forces defended.

Socialist Senator Hélène Conway-Mouret, secretary of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee, emphasized that the war in Ukraine forced parliamentarians to take a fresh look at the trajectory of the military programming law “in a profoundly changed international context, in a high context.” the usual fighting intensity took a turn. »

Thus, the issue of the army’s equipment is the main issue. “Delivering 18 Caesar weapons to the Ukrainian army, almost a quarter of our reserves, shows our weaknesses in terms of volume,” the senator noted.

His colleague Cédric Perrin (LR) noted that loans allocated to the supply of the armed forces increased by 900 million euros. But the effect of inflation on the same loans is 460 mln. “Now it’s a matter of building a war economy, but it is still necessary to start by placing a few additional orders for important equipment,” he launched on a half-cycle, fearing the cancellation and postponement of appropriations in the next LPM 2024-2030. . It has been confirmed to us that no new ammunition has been ordered since last February.

“It is not the delivery of 18 Caesar’s guns that endangers the French nation”

The minister was able to calm him down. Before the list, “I don’t know who misinformed the Foreign Relations and Defense Committee”: 200 intermediate-range missiles were ordered in November, 5,000 missiles or 35 million rounds in August 2022. Sébastien Lecornu also responded to Hélène Conway-Mouret. “It is not the delivery of 18 Caesar’s guns that endangers the French nation”.

The removal of 24 Rafales under export deals with Greece and Croatia also raises questions for senators about the capacity goals of the programming law. “I no longer want army reserves to serve as a buffer stock […] We succeeded. Is this meant to happen again? The answer is no,” explained Sébastien Lecornu.

Elected officials and senators were able to welcome the recent announcement of an agreement between Dassault and Airbus for training contracts leading to the Future Air Combat System (SCAF) demonstrator. Dominique Legge wanted to know what the timetable was for the commissioning of this device. “We have a study in two to three years. We will see where the demonstrator project will be and there will be discussions between industrialists and states regarding the production of this program,” the minister explained.

Finally, Sébastien Lecornu reaffirmed his desire to establish the next LPM with both chambers. “I would leave it up to the Senate to create consensus paths.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *