Macron increases defence spending and vows to bring back military service

13 Mar 18

The French president has reversed a decade of defence budget cuts by approving nearly €300bn in military spending by 2025, as he pushes for military service to be compulsory.

The pledge comes as Emmanuel Macron has promised to lift defence spending to 2% of gross domestic product, from 1.7% last year.

The budget is set to rise by €1.7bn annually until 2022 and €3bn thereafter. The government has already announced a 5.6% increase in spending, to €34.4bn, for this year.

Macron said last month that his new ‘universal national service’ would include an obligatory period of between three and six months for all young people.

The compulsory service was scrapped nearly two decades ago. The government has said it wants to trial the scheme from 2019.

Between 600,000 and 800,000 young people would face military training a year and spend a month with the armed forces. But how this will be funded has not been announced.

According to the Economist, recent estimates suggested that the cost of building 18 regional centres across the country, to take in 4,500 young people for a month at a time, would cost about €3.6bn. 

The spending announcement comes in the midst of tension in the Middle East and pressure on NATO members from president Donald Trump to put more money into their armed forced.

By 2025, it is expected that about 6,000 jobs will be added to the military, including 3,000 in cyber security and intelligence services, according to the French government.

About 60,000 jobs were cut between 2005 and 2015 after Islamist extremists began to target France with a number of terror attacks.

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