PARIS, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- France wants closer defense industry cooperation with Germany, Defense Minister Alain Juppe said this week, in what could culminate in a deal similar to the one Paris struck with Britain last year.
"I hope, finally, to re-raise the question of a strengthening of our industrial cooperation with Germany," Defensenews.com quoted Juppe as saying Tuesday in the traditional New Year's wishes to the military services.
Germany is one of Europe's largest defense sectors; companies including ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann develop high-quality submarines, ships, armored vehicles and tanks. And European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., a multinational giant producing all kinds of airplanes and helicopters, has a strong German profile.
France now wants closer cooperation with the German industry, likely to reap benefits from the ensuing synergies. Juppe said a Franco-German working group has been formed to identify areas of cooperation between the armed forces, Defensenews.com reports.
France in November signed vast military cooperation deals with Britain. Both powers agreed to launch an Anglo-French joint expeditionary force of around 10,000 troops that could be deployed as soon as next year. Valued for 50 years, the cooperation agreement foresees conduct joint nuclear weapons tests and a sharing of both nations' aircraft carriers.
While the deal with Britain was struck to retain military power in times of shrinking defense budgets, it also supports ambitions to form a joint European defense and security policy, Juppe said.
"This European defense policy makes all the more sense today, as budgetary constraints force us better to use available resources, by looking for common solutions of sharing and pooling capabilities, synergies between our forces, economies of scale and productivity gains, wherever it is possible and useful," Juppe was quoted as saying. "Thus I am determined to do everything possible to advance in this direction."
Together with French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and his fellow defense ministers from Germany and Poland, Juppe wrote a joint letter to Catherine Ashton, the European Union's top foreign policy official, calling on her to work for greater intra-European defense cooperation.
"My conviction, in effect, is that we need a political Europe, capable of having its voice heard in the world and taking action when necessary, for its own security or for international security and peace," Juppe was quoted as saying.