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22 Sep 21. Next-gen tech investments, platform upgrades lead France’s 2022 defense budget. The French ministry of defense is pouring bns of euros into critical technologies and new equipment in 2022, as it sets its sights on a future battlefield dominated by advanced platforms, cyber defenses and space-based capabilities. The budget, released Sept. 22, includes €40.9bn [$49bn] and reflects the nation’s commitment to increase its defense funds by €1.7bn [$2bn] year over year since 2019. That yearly increase is a key component of the ministry’s 2019-2025 military program law; in 2021, the ministry allocated €39.2bn to its military forces. For the fourth year in a row, the French defense budget is in a “massive” upswing, and the 2022 budget represents a €9bn increase over the 2017 budget, ministry spokesman Hervé Grandjean told reporters on Wednesday. The French government has invested a cumulative €26 bn on defense over the past five years, a number that comprises all of the yearly budget increases, he noted. The goal of the next year’s funding is to focus on new areas of conflict — namely in space, cyber defense and intelligence — along with the operational units, Grandjean said. The French military is expected to count 273,000 personnel by 2022, including 208,000 troops and 65,000 civilians.
About €1bn will be disbursed by the nation’s Defence Innovation Agency specifically to tackle next-generation priorities, such as quantum technologies, artificial intelligence systems, and directed-energy weapons.
A portion of that sum will also be allocated toward two major development programs: the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS) — known in France as the système combat aérien du futur (SCAF) — and the next-generation tank known as the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) being co-developed by Paris and Berlin.
Grandjean did not disclose how much of the innovation agency funds would go toward these two projects. He noted that the FCAS collaborators intend to spend several bn euros between 2021 and 2027 on the program’s development stage. That phase includes a sixth-generation fighter jet powered by a brand new engine, “loyal wingman”-type unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to be deployed alongside it, a next-generation weapon system, assorted new sensors and stealth technology, and a combat cloud system to help connect all the parts.
Also in the emerging and disruptive technology realm, the French military plans to spend €646m in the space domain, and €23m in the counter-drone arena in 2022.
The Air and Space Force will receive a number of anti-drone jammer guns, and plans to deploy an experimental counter-UAS laser weapon aboard a navy ship at sea next year. The system, developed by the French company Cilas and co-funded by France’s military procurement agency, was already successfully demonstrated on land a few months ago in Biscarrosse, per the ministry.
About €231m will go toward cyber systems, and by 2022, France will recruit an additional 2,000 “cyber fighters” to bring their manpower in that domain up to 5,000 strong. The nation also plans to spend about €11 m to develop a sovereign combat cloud capability.
Key service procurements and deliveries.
The ministry expects a number of major equipment orders in 2022. The Army plans to procure:
- 200 medium-range missiles;
- 396 armored vehicles, to include Griffon, Jaguar, and Serval vehicles;
- 50 upgraded Leclerc tanks, intended to extend the service life of the battle tanks and serve as a capability bridge until the MGCS comes online by 2035;
- 12,000 HK416 assault rifles.
The Navy plans to procure 11 satellite communication ground stations, while the Air and Space Force is buying four upgraded C-130H military transport aircraft, along with one SCCOA radar system.
Additionally, 2022 will see “very significant deliveries” across all the services, Grandjean shared. For the Army, they include:
- 245 armored vehicles, including Griffon, Jaguars and Servals;
- 200 medium-range missiles;
- eight NH90 Army-variant multirole helicopters;
- 2,075 radios.
The Navy expects to receive:
- four upgraded ATL2 patrol aircraft;
- the first air-defense variant of France’s multi-mission frigate (FREMM), l’Alsace (D656);
- the second Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine, le Duguay-Trouin;
- the first of four new “BRF” dual-hulled replenishment tanker vessels in the Jacques-Chevallier class, which will replace the navy’s aging single-hulled Durance-class tankers.
The Air and Space Force expect to receive:
- three A330 MRTT aerial refueling aircraft;
- two A400M military transport aircraft;
- two upgraded Mirage 2000D fighter aircraft.
Additionally, multiple satellites will be launched in 2022. The service’s first Ceres signals intelligence system will enter orbit, kicking off what will ultimately be a three-satellite constellation. A third CSO Earth observation satellite will be launched, completing that constellation, and the first Syracuse IV will be launched, to provide greater connectivity to all domains and a needed upgrade over the current Syracuse III satellite, Grandjean said.
“We need bandwidth, we need connectivity, and this is what our new Syracuse IV satellites will give us,” he said, noting these capabilities will be key to enabling the entire FCAS system of systems.
Maintenance and infrastructure.
French Minister of Defense Florence Parly has made it a priority to ensure the nation’s military equipment is better taken care of into the future, and therefore €300m is allocated for maintenance, Grandjean said.
The ministry expects to spend about €2.4bn on new equipment infrastructure. This will include the construction of France’s Space Command headquarters and the NATO military space center of excellence, both to be headquartered in Toulouse. The ministry also plans to build new infrastructure to house the air force’s A400M fleet, the army’s armored vehicles, and the navy’s Barracuda-class submarines.
About €1.6 bn is earmarked for “small equipment,” such as 70,000 new fire-proof, more breathable mesh clothing units, and 5,000 ergonomic bullet-proof vests.
Overall, the €40.9bn total budget for 2022 includes €23.7bn for equipment and modernization; €12.6bn for salaries; and €4.6bn for utilities and day-to-day operations.
Of the €1.7bn increase over 2021′s budget, about €800m is destined for armament programs and equipment maintenance, €600m for smaller equipment expenditures, and improvements such as benefits and housing, and €300 m for salaries. (Source: Defense News)
23 Sep 21. Sweden progresses with two complementary strategies to deter an invasion. A sharp increase in Sweden’s defense budget allocation will enable its military to move forward with implementing all core parts of the government’s “Total Defence 2021-2025″ plan.
The plan, which projects annual spending on defense to increase by $3.17bn to $10.45bn by 2025, is also buttressed by a parallel strategy to deepen the country’s pan-Nordic defense cooperation in partnership with Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Sweden spent (in current figures) about $5.43bn on its military in 2016; $5.53bn in 2017; $5.73bn in 2018; $5.84bn in 2019; and $6.45bn in 2020.
The Total Defence concept was enabled when Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag, passed the namesake bill in December 2020, bringing the annual defense budget up to the $10.45bn mark by 2025.
The bill laid down key objectives to achieving enhanced military capabilities through force reorganization, manpower strengthening and the procurement of big-ticket items such as modern weaponry that would add greater deterrent firepower to the military’s arsenal.
The Total Defence plan also incorporates goals to mobilize a rapid, resolute and sustained national defense response should Sweden’s territories come under threat or an attack. The concept is intended to deter any swift and aggressive armed attack against Sweden.
The plan acknowledges that in the event of an attack by a “major power,” the military’s land, air and naval forces will consolidate to launch intense defensive and offensive campaigns against enemy forces to both “buy time” and protect the country’s independence until military assistance arrives from regional and international partners.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s closer defense partnerships with neighboring Nordic states was reinforced Sept. 15 when the country signed a joint declaration on defense cooperation with Iceland. The joint declaration called for collaboration in countering new threats, such as those in cyberspace, and joint measures to combat hybrid threats.
The cooperation pact with Iceland forms an integral part of the solidarity-based security policy that Sweden will use to build defense partnerships with its neighbors, Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said during a virtual signing of the Sweden-Iceland declaration. “The joint declaration underlines the shared intent of both countries to strengthen our defense cooperation on matters of mutual interest so that we can better respond to the evolving security environment,” Hultqvist said.
Defense cooperation between Sweden and its immediate neighbors is largely routed through the Nordic Defense Cooperation structure, which serves as a collaborative platform for common military and regional security-based initiatives. (Source: Defense News)
23 Sep 21. First steel cut for Royal Navy Type 31 programme. Steel was today cut for HMS Venturer, the first vessel of the Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigates that will be at the centre of its surface fleet. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace officially cut steel for the UK’s newest warship, during a ceremony held at Rosyth dockyard. The event marks a significant milestone in the programme for the Royal Navy, Defence and shipbuilding in Scotland, with all five vessels to be built by Babcock on the Firth of the Forth and an average production cost of £250m per vessel.
Deemed the lead programme of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the construction of the fleet will support around 1,250 highly-skilled jobs at Babcock and see the creation of an additional 150 apprenticeships. A further 1,250 roles in the UK supply chain are also expected to be supported by the programme.
Shipbuilding Tsar and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “Today is a momentous occasion for the Type 31 programme, Defence and the shipbuilding industry in Scotland. As Shipbuilding Tsar, to cut the steel for the first of five new frigates that will be constructed here on our shores in the Firth of the Forth, providing jobs and innovation to the are, is a tremendous honour.”
Equipped with the innovative technologies at the forefront of the Royal Navy’s future vision, the entire Type 31 fleet will be fitted with a range of capabilities allowing it to undertake a variety of operations at sea.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said, “It’s hugely exciting to see construction of the first of the British military’s new Type 31 warships beginning at Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard on the Firth of the Forth. When complete HMS Venturer – and the rest of the five Scottish built fleet – will help protect the UK and our NATO allies and provide humanitarian support.”
This £1.25bn investment, alongside the Type 26 programme by BAE Systems on the River Clyde at Govan, is boosting our country’s prosperity through supporting thousands of jobs and enhancing Scotland’s reputation as a world leader in shipbuilding.
The newest of the Royal Navy’s frigate fleet will undertake a variety of roles on operations including interception and disruption of illegal activity at sea, intelligence gathering, Defence engagement and providing humanitarian support.
The Type 31 will be equipped with innovative technology and will benefit from advanced capabilities fitted onboard, including MBDA’s Sea Ceptor, a supersonic anti-air missile defence system, as well as a 57mm and two 40mm Bofors naval guns, a 4D radar system and able to house a Royal Navy helicopter.
With agility and flexibility integral to its design, the Type 31 weapon systems will also be adapted throughout its lifespan to counter future threats and ensure each ship can be equipped to deliver a forward naval presence across the globe.
Known as the Inspiration class, the five Type 31 vessels all take their names from former warships and submarines whose missions and history are intended to inspire Royal Navy operations, as well as a representation of its future vision. The four remaining ships in the Class were recently announced as HMS Active, HMS Formidable, HMS Bulldog and HMS Campbeltown.
Constructed in 1942, the original HMS Venturer was a World War Two V-class submarine that most notably was the first to sink another submarine, a German U-boat, while both were submerged using its technological and intelligence advantage over the enemy. Almost 80 years later since construction started on the original HMS Venturer, its Type 31 depiction draws on its historical achievements and aims to promote the Royal Navy’s technological and innovative forward-look.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin said, “Type 31, built at Rosyth and supporting over 2,000 jobs, is a hugely important future capability for the Royal Navy and represents a significant export opportunity to friends and allies overseas. As announced by the Prime Minister last November, Defence has received an increase in funding of over £24bn across the next four years, enabling our Armed Forces to adapt to meet future threats of which the Type 31 will form a part. Enhanced by commitments outlined in the Defence Command Paper, the new frigates will form part of the Royal Navy Integrated Force 2030 vision and will replace the five general-purpose Type-23 frigates currently in service with the Royal Navy.”
During his visit to the Rosyth dockyard, the Defence Secretary, accompanied by the Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin and Director General Ships Vice Admiral Chris Gardner of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), also unveiled a plaque to mark the formal commissioning of Babcock’s new Assembly Hall. As part of a wider £35m site investment by Babcock, the state-of-the-art and digitised facility will be capable of housing two Type 31 vessels alongside each other during their build phase.
Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Nick Hine said, “This is an exciting time for the Royal Navy. The Type 31 represents the very best of British shipbuilding and with its modular design will be configurable to meet the needs of both the Royal Navy and our allies around the world, now and into the future. Type 31s will operate across the globe with sustained forward presence, further signifying our intent of being a global navy and the foremost naval power in Europe.”
Director General Ships at Defence Equipment & Support, Vice Admiral Chris Gardner said, “I am incredibly proud of the Type 31 team at DE&S who worked tirelessly to deliver the contract award in timescales unprecedented for a procurement of its size and complexity. The pace and agility of the team and their close working relationship with industry has meant that now, less than two years later, we have witnessed the start of production of a vessel that will play a pivotal role in the Royal Navy fleet and inspire a new UK shipbuilding renaissance through realising the goals of the national Shipbuilding Strategy.”
The entire Type 31 fleet is expected to be delivered by the end of 2028 and to enter service with the Royal Navy by the end of 2030, with the first expected in the water in 2023. The Type 31 will carry a crew of up to 105 that will be deployed on duties around the world, working alongside new Type-26 frigates. Its design is based on Babcock’s Arrowhead 140 which has already attracted international export opportunities. Babcock signed the first export contract with PT Pal of Indonesia, at this year’s DSEI and is also one of the bidders down selected to provide a potential design solution for the Polish Navy’s Miecznik (Swordfish) frigate programme.
The Type 31 is the first warship competition for over a decade, with the initial contract award by DE&S marking a significant achievement of meeting the challenges outlined by Sir John Parker in the National Ship Building Strategy, announced in September 2017. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
23 Sep 21. Babcock cuts steel for Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigate HMS VENTURER at Rosyth. Babcock, the aerospace, defence and security company, was joined by UK Secretary of State for Defence and Shipbuilding Tsar, Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP to cut the first steel for the first of the Royal Navy’s five new Type 31 frigates, HMS VENTURER. Hosted at Babcock’s facility in Rosyth, Scotland, where the Type 31 Inspiration class ships are being built, representatives from across UK and international industry and public service, witnessed the historic ceremony signalling the official start of the build programme alongside employees and representatives from the local community. The frigates will be at the heart of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet, deterring aggression and maintaining the security of the UK’s interests as well as providing humanitarian relief when needed. The frigates will work alongside the UK’s Allies to deliver a warship presence across the globe and enable a forward naval presence. The symbolic first cut of steel for HMS VENTURER was conducted at Babcock’s new advanced manufacturing facility, a cornerstone of the company’s digital transformation at Rosyth, which includes panel lines with robotic welding capability, as well as other semi-automated manufacturing machines. The technology, based on modern shipbuilding practices, enables Babcock to increase automation and create significant efficiencies in the build schedule.
The event comes just one week after Babcock announced that it had secured the first export contract for its Arrowhead 140 frigate (the export variant of the UK Type 31 platform) through a design licence agreement with PT PAL Indonesia (Persero) for two frigates. The company has also been shortlisted as one of the bidders to provide a potential design solution for Poland’s Miecznik (Swordfish) frigate programme.
The event also saw Babcock’s new assembly hall named ‘The Venturer Building’ – paying homage to the first new class of frigates to be built in the facility.
This vast structure measuring 147m x 62m x 42m is capable of housing two Type 31 frigates for parallel build and assembly activity. It will enable uninterrupted assembly,
supporting increased productivity gains through improved access and digital connectivity.
The new infrastructure forms part of a £60 m investment programme on the site, on top of a further £100 m that has been invested over the last decade to ensure Rosyth’s shipbuilding capability and capacity can be optimised with state of the art engineering infrastructure and digital innovation to support further opportunities.
Babcock CEO David Lockwood said, “This is a significant moment. We are witnessing what the National Shipbuilding strategy can achieve. Working with our partners and customers, we are creating something we can all be very proud of. The T31 Class will show the adaptability and capability of a modern warship created with British ingenuity and engineering at its core. I’m looking forward to seeing these magnificent vessels emerge from our newly-named Venturer Building.”
Defence Secretary and Shipbuilding Tsar Ben Wallace said, “Today is a momentous occasion for the Type 31 programme, Defence and the shipbuilding industry in Scotland. As Shipbuilding Tsar, to cut the steel for the first of five new frigates that will be constructed here on our shores in the Firth of the Forth, providing jobs and innovation to the area, is a tremendous honour. Equipped with the technologies at the forefront of the Royal Navy’s future vision, the entire Type 31 fleet will be fitted with a range of capabilities allowing it to undertake a variety of operations at sea.”
A direct UK workforce of around 1,250 people will be employed on the programme at its height, including 150 apprenticeships, and a further 1,250 in the supply chain. This meets the aims of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, by delivering local and national, social and economic benefits through investing in its supply chain and the next generation of apprentice and graduates, whilst sustaining highly skilled workforces in multiple locations throughout the UK. The first ship is expected to be in the water in 2023 with all five ships delivered by 2028.
23 Sep 21. Jeremy Quin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, in Japan for bilateral discussions on defence industrial collaboration. On September 22, 2021, Jeremy Quin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, was in Tokyo for meetings with Japan’s State Minister for Defence Nakayama. He also called on Defence Minister Kishi, and had discussions with Commissioner Suzuki of Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA). Minister Quin’s meetings built upon the momentum in the UK-Japan bilateral defence and security relationship. The focus was on joint defence industrial and technology collaboration, with agreements to further develop strategic partnerships and opportunities. Minister Quin was also hosted by State Minister Nakayama for a visit to ATLA’s Air Systems Research Centre in Tachikawa, outside Tokyo.
Jeremy Quin MP, Minster for Defence Procurement, said, “We share a strategic requirement for a future combat air system, with both the UK and Japan committed to ensuring interoperability with the US. Over the next 12 months, we will progress our shared interests in key areas of future fighter technology, maritime and complex weapons, underscoring our shared vision and intent. Japan and the UK are both committed to supporting the security and prosperity of the wider Indo-Pacific Region.”
Minister Quin’s visit built upon the UK’s strategic intent to engage more proactively in the Indo Pacific Region, as outlined in the Integrated Review in March. An increasingly strong partnership with Japan in defence and security is integral to this vision.
Minister Quin also explained that the recent announcement of the new Australia, UK, US trilateral defence and security partnership, ‘AUKUS’, was a further clear demonstration of the UK government’s strategic commitment to security cooperation globally and in the Indo-Pacific in particular. Defence Minister Kishi welcomed the enhancement of US, UK and Australia’s security and defence cooperation, saying it was important for the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.
Minister Quin’s visit came just two weeks after HMS Queen Elizabeth, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21), visited Japan. The visit of CSG21 was a powerful demonstration of the UK’s close and enduring partnership with Japan.
Exercise PACIFIC CROWN saw the Japanese Maritime and Air Self Defence Force operating and training alongside UK counterparts across a broad spectrum of activity, highlighting similarities in the UK and Japan’s current capabilities and future requirements, and demonstrating the benefits of greater interoperability.
The UK and Japan are ever closer strategic partners. Both are strong allies of the US, and are working more closely together to increase resilience and to protect prosperity and national security. With a strong foundation built on common values, the UK and Japan share an interest in strengthening our defences and the security of our people, homelands, economies and environments. Those shared interests have been further strengthened this year through Prime Ministerial and senior Ministerial discussions, including in the G7, and in the defence field, across all services at all levels. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
21 Sep 21. EU launches new tool to empower SMEs: Access2Procurement. Today, the Commission has launched Access2Procurement, a new expansion of the Access2Markets platform that will provide important and up-to-date information about public tender opportunities outside of the EU that are open to European companies. The Access2Procurement, which is currently in a pilot phase, will be especially useful to small and medium sized companies that have less access to procurement-related information in third countries. It is part of the Commission efforts to expand the opportunities of European companies to trade beyond the EU’s borders. In this first phase, it contains information on government procurement tenders from Canada to which EU companies have access, based on Canada’s commitments both under the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement GPA and the bilateral EU-Canada Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). Further countries will be integrated into the tool at a later stage. Alongside the country and sector of the tender, the new tool also includes the information usually contained in a tender notice: the procuring entity, the subject matter and the estimated value of the procurement. (Source: glstrade.com)
22 Sep 21. Emmanuel Macron may offer up UN seat in push for EU army. France’s position on Security Council could be put at the disposal of Brussels if it backs his military plan. France’s seat on the United Nations Security Council could be put “at the disposal of the European Union” if its governments back Emmanuel Macron’s plans for an EU army, a close ally of the French president has said. Paris is spearheading a diplomatic push for closer EU military integration after Australia pulled out of a £45 bn contract for diesel-powered French submarines and signed the Aukus security pact with the US and UK instead. A traditional standing EU army remains a distant prospect, but Mr Macron – on the cusp of becoming the EU’s most influential leader as Angela Merkel prepares to bow out of politics after Sunday’s German elections – is determined to lay its foundations. Top European officials this month proposed the creation of a 5,000-strong rapid reaction force after America’s decision to rapidly withdraw from Afghanistan caught the bloc short.
“I think that if we move on these things we can put on the table also the discussion on the Security Council,” Sandro Gozi, a former Italian Europe minister now serving as an MEP for Mr Macron’s party, told The Telegraph.
Maro Sefcovic, the deputy head of the European Commission, said on Tuesday that the EU would soon discuss ways of bolstering common defence.
His remarks came after Joe Biden, the US president, said America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan marked an end to “relentless war” involving US forces at the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Mr Biden, who has promised to call Mr Macron amid a diplomatic fall-out over the Aukus pact, on Tuesday celebrated the deal before a meeting with Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister. He said America has “no closer or more reliable ally than Australia”.
France is the only member state to have a permanent seat on the council after Brexit. The EU only has observer status. The UK, US, China and Russia have the other four permanent seats and veto rights on the body, charged with maintaining international peace.
French demands for influential countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain to boost their defence spending have in reply drawn demands from Berlin that Paris puts its UN seat to work for Brussels.
Angela Merkel and Olaf Scholz, the front-runner to succeed her as chancellor, have both put forward the request, which has always been rebuffed by Paris.
Mr Macron is understood to be willing to discuss sharing the UN seat if he can secure concessions that will allow the EU to speak with a single voice on foreign policy as well as steps towards common EU defence.
Asked about the prospect of handing over the Security Council seat to the EU, the Elysée said on Tuesday night: “No comment.”
France and Germany want EU member states to be stripped of their effective veto on foreign policy, replacing the need for unanimity with a vote weighted by population. The move would hand Paris and Berlin even more influence and faces opposition from some member states.
Britain has long opposed the creation of a European military force, and MPs warned that sidelining the UK post-Brexit would only play into the hands of enemies of the West.
“The UK represents a quarter of Europe’s entire military capability. It would be only helping our adversaries to exclude us from any discussion about advancing our continental defence posture,” said Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the defence select committee.
Bob Seely, a senior Tory MP, warned: “If the EU Army undermines NATO, or results in the separation of the US and Europe or produces a paper army, Europe will be committing the most enfeebling and dangerous act of self-harm since the rise of fascism in the 1930s.”
Mr Seely added that while potential adversaries are “rearming, an EU Army will amount to European de-arming”.
He added that France’s talk of using its UN seat felt “more about France needing to see and present itself as a great power through what it hopes is its domination of the EU”.
“Considering the economic imbalance between France and Germany, I worry it is a little delusional – it certainly has proved to be so in the past,” he said.
He called on France “to see the bigger picture”.
‘A unique opportunity for him and for Europe’
But France takes on the six-month rotating presidency of the EU on Jan 1, handing it a pivotal role in intergovernmental negotiations. Mr Macron is to hold a joint summit on EU defence with the European Commission president during this period.
“This is a unique opportunity for him and for Europe,” said Mr Gozi, who was handpicked by the French president to be one of the first transnational MEPs. Transnational MEPs represent the EU rather than countries and are a pet project of Mr Macron, who sees them as a way of bolstering EU democracy.
“We must be prepared to confirm our transatlantic alliance but also to become adult in terms of our security and take on our responsibility,” Mr Gozi said. “Certainly Macron will push a lot. I would say this is probably his highest priority now.”
There are plan for the EU to bolster common cyber defence and intelligence sharing and set up a joint situational awareness centre alongside the 5,000-strong force. The commission has said VAT could be waived on EU-made military equipment to hand French defence companies an advantage over their international rivals.
France and Italy have said the Aukus pact proves the EU has to build its “sovereign autonomy” and be less dependent on an unreliable US.
Talks began in earnest on building capacity and pooling defence after Donald Trump upbraided EU leaders, his Nato allies, for not spending enough on their militaries. But Mr Biden’s foreign policy has fuelled discussions.
“I think that after Kabul, after Aukus, this was, I would say the natural conclusion, that we need to focus more on the strategic autonomy,” Mr Sefcovic told reporters after a meeting of the EU’s European affairs ministers in Brussels.
“Europeans shouldn’t be the rejects of the strategy chosen by the United States,” Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said as he arrived in New York for the UN General Assembly on Monday. “We are in this new state of mind, which means the Europeans need to identify their own strategic issues and to have a discussion with the United States on this topic.”
Charles Michel, the president of the European Commission and a close Macron ally, said that the affair had damaged US-EU relations at a point when they were rebuilding after Mr Trump’s presidency.
“At least with Donald Trump it was very, very clear that he was not in favour of the European integration, that for him Europe doesn’t matter, but it was clear,” he told reporters. “With the new Joe Biden administration, America is back. What does it mean America is back? Is America back in America or somewhere else? We don’t know.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
20 Sep 21. EU backs France in submarine dispute, asking: Is America back? European Union foreign ministers expressed support and solidarity with France on Monday during a meeting in New York to discuss Australia’s scrapping of a $40bn submarine order with Paris in favor of a U.S. and British deal. Speaking after the closed-door meeting on the sidelines annual U.N. gathering of world leaders, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “more cooperation, more coordination, less fragmentation” was needed to achieve a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region where China is the major rising power. Australia said last week it would cancel an order for conventional submarines from France and instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. and British technology after striking a security partnership with those countries under the name AUKUS. read more
“Certainly, we were caught by surprise by this announcement,” Borrell said.
The decision enraged France and earlier on Monday in New York French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration of continuing his predecessor Donald Trump’s trends of “unilateralism, unpredictability, brutality and not respecting your partner.”
The United States has sought to assuage the anger in France, a NATO ally. French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden are due to speak on the phone in the next few days.
“We are allies, we talk and don’t hide elaborate different strategies. That’s why there is a crisis in confidence,” Le Drian said. “So all that needs clarifications and explanations. It may take time.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday that she expected Biden to “reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners on a range of challenges that the global community is facing” when he speaks with Macron.
It is not clear if the dispute will have implications for the next round of EU-Australia trade talks, scheduled for Oct. 12. Borrell met with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in New York on Monday.
European Council President Charles Michel said that he found it difficult to understand the move by Australia, Britain and the United States.
“Why? Because with the new Joe Biden administration, America is back. This was the historic message sent by this new administration and now we have questions. What does it mean – America is back? Is America back in America or somewhere else? We don’t know,” he told reporters in New York.
If China was a main focus for Washington then it was “very strange” for the United States to team up with Australia and Britain, he said, calling it a decision that weakened the transatlantic alliance.
Top officials from the United States and European Union are due to meet in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, later this month for the inaugural meeting of the newly established U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, but Michel said some EU members were pushing for this to be postponed. (Source: Reuters)
21 Sep 21. Afghan interpreters’ details shared in MoD email data breach. Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last month, hundreds of people who aided British forces have been in hiding, fearing for their lives. In a recent email urging interpreters not to put themselves or their families at risk if it was not safe to leave their current location, the Ministry of Defence told them it was doing everything it could to help relocate them. But then one realised email addresses of more than 250 Afghans who worked with British forces were visible to all recipients, along with their names and some associated profile pictures.
“This mistake could cost the life of interpreters, especially for those who are still in Afghanistan,” the recipient in question told the BBC. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has ordered an investigation into the “unacceptable breach” and the ministry has apologised. But former defence minister Johnny Mercer says the treatment of the interpreters has been “deeply shameful”, adding many will be “moving house again”. Labour’s shadow defence secretary John Healey is demanding the government step up efforts to get interpreters to the UK. (Source: BBC)
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