France raises its defence funds by 40%
 Source : NewsBharati  Date : 08-Feb-2018

Paris, February 8: France on Wednesday announced plans to hike defence spending by more than 40 percent bringing it into line with NATO targets.

European NATO members have come under pressure from Trump to relieve the burden on the US, which currently accounts for about 70 percent of combined NATO defence spending.

The French government unveiled a bill that increases spending on the armed forces from 34.2 billion euros ($42 billion) in 2018 to 50 billion euros in 2025, taking the defence budget from 1.82 percent of GDP currently to a NATO target of two percent.

Nuclear-armed France and Britain are the biggest military powers in the European Union.

The French spending hike under new centrist President Emmanuel Macron marks a shift after years of belt-tightening in defence, which caused tension in the ranks. a chunk of the funds will be spent on replacing ageing armoured personnel carriers, adding more refuelling aircraft and ships and upgrading France's nuclear arsenal.

The bill also sets aside more money for the troops, in the form of better training, improved accommodation for military families and new equipment, including new bullet-proof vests and night-vision goggles.

The increase in funding will have to be balanced against commitments by Macron to tackle French overspending, which has seen the country repeatedly break European rules on deficits. France’s public finance watchdog urged Macron to go further in reducing the country's debt which is among the highest in Europe. The budget deficit is forecast by the economy ministry to dip to 2.8 percent of GDP in 2018, while the public debt is estimated at 2.2 trillion euros, the equivalent of 96.8 percent of GDP.