France's parliament approves big boost in military spending, spurred by Ukraine war

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FILE - French serviceman operate a mortar during a joint French US exercise in Capu Midia, on the Black Sea shore, Romania, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Frances parliament has approved a boost to military spending spurred on by Russia's war in Ukraine. The new budget bill includes 413 billion euros ($450 billion) in defense spending through the rest of this decade, which is the most significant spending hike in half a century. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

PARIS – France’s parliament on Thursday approved a multi-billion-euro boost to military spending through the rest of this decade, spurred by Russia’s war in Ukraine and fast-growing global threats.

President Emmanuel Macron pushed for the bigger budget, which would spend 413 billion euros ($450 billion), the most significant spending hike in half a century. The money would modernize France’s nuclear arsenal, augment intelligence spending and develop more remote-controlled weapons.

He has argued the boost was needed to ensure “our freedom, our security, our prosperity, our place in the world.” The defense minister has compared it to France’s push in the 1960s to develop nuclear weapons, making the country one of the world’s bigger military powers.

The new military plan includes doubling the number of military reservists and reinforcing cyberdefense, as well as increasing weapons production capacity both to help Ukraine and to keep the French military adequately supplied.

The new budget for the 2024-2030 period is more than a third higher than the last military spending plan of 295 billion euros for 2019-2025.

The bill won final approval by the divided National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, on Wednesday by a vote of 244-37, and it was approved by the conservative-led Senate on Thursday by 313 votes to 17.

Macron’s centrist alliance doesn’t have a majority in either house of parliament, but military officers have long lamented shrinking armed forces spending, while conservative and far-right parties tend to support investment in defense.

Macron is scheduled to speak to defense officials later Thursday, on the eve of Bastille Day celebrations that include an elaborate Paris parade showcasing troops, warplanes and military equipment.