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France calls for more integrated European defence

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly presented to the National Assembly's Defence Committee on 14 December France's plans for its six-month presidency of the European Union, which starts on 1 January 2022.

One of France's highest priorities will be the EU strategic compass to be adopted in March. Parly said that France wants the EU rapid reaction force to be strengthened by dealing with the political and capability shortfalls to make the force usable.

Over the years, the European Union has created structures such as battle groups that have never been used. Moreover, France is unwilling to create structures competing with NATO as 21 EU members also belong to the alliance.

However, France has already created the European intervention initiative proposed by President Emmanuel Macron, a success from which Task Force Takuba, which accompanies Malian forces in combat, originates. It brought together six countries in 2020, growing to eight in mid-2021, 10 this month, and 13 in 2022. It now has 900 soldiers, half of whom are French.

France also wants to develop a co-ordinated maritime presence (CMP) as already exists in the Gulf of Guinea. The European Military Staff has set up an intelligence transmission system between the navies concerned and the CMP also improves co-ordination of participating European ships to avoid redundancy or shortfalls.

France also wants to ramp up large-scale European exercises, with cyber-defence exercise โ€˜Aster X' to be held on 1โ€“4 March and an air transport exercise in June. Parly also mentioned the proposal for a European defence space strategy by 2023, building on the French national defence strategy that she presented in 2019.

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