Emmanuel Macron called on European nations to seek more independence in airspace defence to avoid over-reliance on the US on Monday.
France’s President made the case for Europeans building their own airspace protection strategy – a recurring issue given urgency by the war in Ukraine – in the closing speech of a conference in Paris.
“We need to know what the threat situation is … And then, what are we, Europeans, able to produce? And what do we then need to buy?” Macron said.
He warned against purchasing immediately “what’s on the shelves.”
The talks included anti-drone combat and ballistic missile defence, French organisers said, noting that Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has shown the importance and effectiveness of such equipment. Nuclear weapons deterrence was also on the agenda.
The meeting was attended by diplomats from Germany, the UK and Sweden, alongside Ukraine’s neighbours Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, plus representatives from NATO and the EU.
Macron pushed for European defence equipment manufacturers to build independent military systems and relocate production on the continent.
US standardisation has resulted in European dependence on the country, Macron said, advocating for “enhanced European standards.”
“Americans have standardised much more than we have, and they themselves have federal agencies that provide massive subsidies to their manufacturers,” he noted.
The Mamba anti-missile system developed by France and Italy “is now deployed and operational in Ukraine, protecting key installations and lives,” he added.
The delivery of the system to Kyiv was announced by Paris and Rome in February.
“It really is Europe protecting Europe,” Macron said.
The Mamba system is already a part of NATO’s integrated air and missile defence.
France has been openly critical of German-led plans for improved European air defence capabilities.
The European Sky Shield project, launched at the end of last year, is comprised of 17 European nations, including the UK but not France.
The French government believes the project doesn’t adequately preserve European sovereignty, because it’s expected to be largely based on US and Israeli industry.
The German-led plan is expected to feature the Israeli Arrow 3 system and build on existing US Patriot missile capabilities and is proposed to be integrated into NATO air and missile defence systems.