French Defence Minister Warns Industry Over Production Rates, Threatens Requisitioning

Foreign Affairs

Paris: France’s top defence official warned industry that he’s prepared to requisition “personnel, stocks or production tools” from his nation’s defence industries and their subcontractors if weapons production rates are not improved.

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Sébastien Lecornu, France’s minister for the armed forces, said unless industry can “produce more and faster” then he was not ruling out “in the next few weeks” moving ahead with such a plan nor would he hesitate to use the ministry’s “powers of policing” to force subcontractors to prioritize their defence clients over civilian contracts.

He said he was “expecting some effort from industrialists.” “They are no longer [state-held] armouries, they are companies. Nevertheless, they are companies like no others. For the first time, I’m not ruling out the idea of using what the law allows the minister and the delegate general for armament from doing,” Lecornu said. “That is to say that if their performance concerning production speeds and lead times are unsatisfactory, then to undertake requisitions if need be.”

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Lecornu, surrounded by the chiefs of staff of the armed forces and Emmanuel Chiva, the delegate general for armament, was addressing journalists at a press conference to reveal the first results of the war economy called for by President Emmanuel Macron at the Eurosatory land and air-land exhibition in June 2022.

To justify potential requisitions, the ministry has the 2024-30 military program law to lean on. The law says that in case of “threats, actual or foreseeable, on the activities essential to the life of the Nation, to the protection of the population, to the integrity of the territory or to the permanence of the Republic’s institutions or of a nature to justify the establishment of the State’s international defence engagements, the requisition of all persons, physical or moral, and of all the goods and services necessary to counter [the threat] can be decided by decree taken by the Council of Ministers.”

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