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Defence: France sells its shares in EADS and buys drones from the Americans

Translated Thursday 23 May 2013, by Elaine Scott

On Sunday, Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian justified France’s purchase of two American drones by explaining that France had “missed the render-vous for drones”. This must be what François Hollande meant by “giving meaning again to our presence in the integrated leadership of NATO”.

The white defence papers presented last month confirmed it: “Our defence strategy and national security can not be conceived outside of the framework of the Atlantic Alliance and our commitment to the European Union.” Within this framework, France must buy two Reaper surveillance drones from the USA to be delivered before the end of 2013. “Today, there are two countries that construct drones, America and Israel; we have been in contact with both of them in order to acquire the drones immediately”, declared the Minister of Defence at the “Grand rendez-vous” between Europe 1, Itélé and Le Parisien. “It is therefore necessary that today, at our demand, French and European manufacturers work together to develop what could be the drone of tomorrow, a new generation of drones which will not be uniquely French since there is the same demand from Germany and from Great Britain. This is a good way to build the Europe of defence”, he enthused.

A policy conceived by NATO

However, the French government is selling 1.2 billion Euros of EADS shares, an industry ever so strategic in matters of defence. Even though EADS has developed the Talarion programme of defence drones, the French government prefers to buy from America.

For the Left Party which is publishing a decrypted version of the White defence paper, “The selling of shares in strategic companies by the government in order to fund military spending is making the choice to sacrifice French ambitions in terms of sovereign defence to satisfy the requirements of the Department of Budget. […] This logic is disastrous for the geostratigic status of the country. It leads to multiplying the number of cooperation agreements on an Atlantic line following the model signed with the United Kingdom in 2010 by Sarkozy. […] It also puts weapons programmes into question, and leads to the choice of American supplies, such as was the case for the MALE drone (Medium altitude long endurance), chosen to the detriment of development of EADS Talarion programme. This policy of ’mutualism’ has been thought up by NATO, therefore by the USA, and has been promoted under the marketing concept of ’smart-defence’ ”.

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