Blog AnalysisDefense industry

When Emmanuel Macron plays the little alchemist with billions from the Defense Fund

(credit: EU Council, June 2018 – B2 archives – Emmanuel Macron at the European summit)

(B2) The presidency of the French Republic has undertaken a brief assessment of the Sorbonne speech delivered last September. All in all, an interesting and normal result... if it did not contain gross errors, or even attempts to manipulate facts.

In the " update on the Sorbonne initiative “, aired this Tuesday (March 5) on the website from the Elysée, we find under the heading: common defense budget… this:

Those who know the subject, as B2 has been following for years, have had a strange feeling: have I lost a step, forgotten a number somewhere...

Let's take the elements one by one...

1. ' The European Defense Fund […] is now operational »

It's an illusion. The European Defense Fund (EDEF) is not yet operational. European negotiators have just agreed on a large part of the settlement. But this has not yet been definitively approved, and will not be for several months. And the calls for proposals are far from being launched. Quite simply, because there remains an important detail to be resolved: the amount of the fund (13 billion), which is not the subject ofno deal (see point 3). The FEDef is therefore virtual and not operational.

2. “The Union is investing 1,5 billion euros in 2019 and 2020 […] in research projects in the field of defense and in the industrial development of defense technologies. »

It's true in substance, false in figures. For 2019-2020 there are in fact two preliminary programs for the European Defense Fund, one for industrial development (PEDID / EDIDP) with €500 million for the two years (2019-2020) (1), the another for the preparatory action endowed with €90 million for three years (2017-2020). Even if we add it all up, we don't get to 1,5 billion. A billion euros are missing. A real conjurer’s trick!

3. ' … 13 billion over the period 2021-2027 »

This is a putative number. For 2021-2027, there is indeed an amount proposed by the European Commission of 13 billion euros over the seven years of the European Defense Fund (FEDEF). But this figure was not accepted by anyone. And he is far from it. It is in fact part of a vast negotiation on what is called the MFF, the future multiannual budgetary framework for the next seven years. The heads of state and government will have to arbitrate between the different priorities, to reach an agreement... with the European Parliament, an always tough negotiation, which is aggravated by the departure of the United Kingdom (which will have to be replaced) . This negotiation has not yet really started, it should only be in the second half of 2019. Emmanuel Macron knows this well. France – like several other member states – are not in a big hurry, believing that there is still time. An agreement should be reached, at the very least, at the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020 (in the optimistic hypothesis…). And it is very rare for a proposal to be accepted without seeing its amount decrease. Concretely, if the FEDef emerges from the battle with 10 billion, this will be considered good. And if we reach 12 billion it will be considered a 'big victory'.

pure misinformation

Announcing the operational where there is a putative one, making a (deliberate) error on the figures, taking a forecast for reality... All this in a single sentence is an achievement! We can have a desire for Europe, be voluntary, set ambitions. At some point you have to speak the truth and be real. Otherwise we pass for an alchemist, who transforms lead into gold. This is not worthy of a President of the Republic, of a European leader, especially when he claims to want to combat disinformation. We fight misinformation well when we provide the right information.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. « The financial envelope for the execution of the program for the period from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2020 is established at EUR 500 in current prices. (article 4 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1092 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018, OJEU L 200 of 7.8.2018 establishing the European program for industrial development in the field of defense aimed at supporting competitiveness and capacity innovation of the Union defense industry).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).