Bridging the English Channel: the outlook for Anglo-French defence co-operation
By Guy Anderson and Jane's Defence Industry Editor Matthew Bell
The case for greater defence co-operation between France and the UK is compelling.
Both countries are facing a well-documented period of relative austerity, during which meeting operational and procurement aspirations in the face of eroded budgets will prove a challenge.
Further, it can be argued that both Paris and London share similar ambitions and policies, have a broadly comparable defence technological and industrial base and acquisition budgets that are high by European standards. Jane's notes that the UK and France together account for about 40 per cent of Europe's combined top-line defence spending; nearly 50 per cent of the equipment budget; and two thirds of research and technology spending.
Moves towards greater Anglo-French collaboration have been gathering pace for some years. A 2006 Franco-British summit resulted in the formation of a High Level Working Group (HLWG) with the stated aim of bridging the gap between the governments and Franco-British industry by building on collaboration in defence research and equipment. Joint cross-Channel research and development spending saw each country commit close to EUR80 million (USD111 million) in 2009: some way above the EUR50 million each agreed during a bilateral summit in March 2008.
However, it is the financial crisis that has sharpened the minds of policy makers over the last two years. French sources have previously told Jane's that they view the period leading up to the publication of the UK Strategic Defence and Security Review (expected this month) as a "critical window" of opportunity.244 of 1296 words
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