French President Emmanuel Macron pledged Thursday to increase defense spending starting in 2018 after bashing his top general for criticizing spending cuts in this year’s budget.
Macron made the pledge in his first defense policy speech since assuming office in May. The annual address to the army coincided with U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Paris for Friday’s Bastille Day celebrations.
France’s defense spending will increase by 1.5 billion euros ($1.72 billion) next year — from 32.7 billion euros ($37.5 billion) in 2017, to 34.2 billion euros ($39.2 billion) in 2018.
“It’s a considerable effort, considering the current context of budgetary constraints,” Macron said, according to Reuters.
France currently spends around 1.79 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. Macron aims to meet NATO’s 2 percent threshold by 2025. Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel further announced plans Thursday to develop a new European fighter jet in the near future.
General Pierre de Villiers allegedly said he would not let the government “f**k with” him by making defense cuts during a meeting with a parliamentary committee Wednesday. De Villiers referred to an 850 million euro ($969 million) cut in the 2017 defense budget.
Macron empathized in his speech that he would not tolerate public criticism like this moving forward.
“For me it’s undignified to wash dirty linen in public,” Macron told the army. “I have made commitments, I am your boss.”
NATO estimates Canada and European allies will increase defense spending by 4.3 percent in 2017. (RELATED: Trump Effect? NATO Allies Increase Defense Spending By 4.3 Percent)
The alliance has seen a cumulative increase of $46 billion since 2014, when the 2 percent of GDP target was agreed upon.
Out of the alliance’s 28 members, just five meet the spending goal. The United Kingdom, Greece, Poland and Estonia are the only countries besides the U.S. to hit the target, according to NATO’s 2016 figures.
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