Budget of armies: France must prepare to “make choices”, according to Court of Auditors

In a report revealed on Tuesday, the institution calls to revise the military programming law due to the war in Ukraine.


It is a delicate exercise in the analysis of the military programming law (LPM) 2019-2025 and the capacities of the armies, that the Court of Auditors has been delivered in a report published Wednesday, May 11. A document whose publication was scheduled for early March, but which was postponed due to the war in Ukraine. And for good reason: its conclusions are harsh, since it is clearly indicated that France is moving towards Cornelian “choices” if it wishes to both pursue the rise of its armies, while maintaining the public deficit under the Bar of 3 % of GDP by 2027.

Even if the Court welcomes the rise of defense credits since 2017 – a first since the Cold War – “the sustainability of public finances must be preserved”, commented the first president of the court, Pierre Moscovici, during the presentation of this report. “Arbitrations will have to be carried out and room for maneuver will have to be found,” he added when the armies’ budget currently represents 10.5 % of that of the State (excluding debt charge).

In accordance with what was planned, between 2019 and 2022, LPM execution credits increased from 35.9 billion euros to 40.9 billion in 2022. Flexibility efforts in budget management Armies led by Minister Florence Parly have made it possible, according to the Court, to finance, without additional credits, needs which were not provided for by the LPM, in particular to strengthen the space domain, or to fill in urgency the weaknesses of the struggle Antidrones. But if the LPM plans to push the budget of armies up to 50 billion euros in 2025, events in the meantime are likely to complicate the equation.

strategic competition

The costs of production of armaments are likely to “start upwards” under the effect of strong inflationary trends in the economy, the report underlines. The unexpected success of used Rafale sales to export (in Greece and Croatia), also forced these devices from the Air Force stocks. However, the replacement costs have not been anticipated. The Air Force is therefore likely to have to deal with a reduced number of planes. Finally, strategic competition continues to increase and technological ruptures promise to be faster and faster.

Faced with this new context, the Court of Auditors describes three possible scenarios. The first is the continuation of the rise in power of the French “complete” army model by 2030, with the increase in expenses that goes with it. This is the current “reference” scenario of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. But in this case, painful budgetary choices will be made in other areas of the economy: “The case it costs its limits,” said Moscovici. The second scenario consists in reducing these same military ambitions, as had been the case in 2008 and 2013. But this solution is “not without damage for the capacities of the armies”, points the court.

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/Media reports.