42 billion euros, optimal military budget for France

“One doesn’t win a war without a war effort,” wrote General Pierre de Villiers, Chief of Staff of France’s Armed Forces (CEMA), in a column for the daily newspaper Les Echos. While the Islamist terrorist threat is of unprecedented severity and that the great powers – Russia, China, the United States – have sustained or even significantly increased their military capabilities, only Europe has diminished its own.

Voluntarily lost in this strategic contradiction with potentially grave consequences for the future, only France and the United Kingdom have kept valuable military forces unfortunately damaged by budget deficiencies that reduced their operational and external projection capabilities. With a military budget representing 1.77% of the national GDP, France will spend about 32.7 billion euros in 2017.

If this budget remains one of the world’s largest especially if one adds all the elements related to France’s nuclear arsenal (1), it is insufficient with a view to maintaining the “war effort” which is the “price of peace” stressed General Villiers. Considering the need for new equipments, considering the international situation and the domestic threat, 38 billion euros annually or 2.1% of GDP is the minimum required for France to defend itself in the future.

Better, 42 billion euros annually or 2.26% of GDP would give France more optimal capacities and in line with its ambitions and the preservation of its geostrategic interests. In order to maximize its effectiveness, the increase in military budget should be accompanied by a regained control of the territory and national borders as well as a renewed autonomy of the national (and / or European) military industry.

(1) If one takes into account all the expenditures related to France’s armed forces, including the nuclear component, France’s total military budget is valued at 58.6 billion euros (61 billion dollars).