February 5th, local time, German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron co-chaired the online meeting of the German-French Defense and Security Council, focusing on three major issues closely related to European security, sending a signal that the two countries still attach great importance to issues in related fields in the context of the epidemic.
First of all, in terms of cooperation in the research and development of weapons and equipment, the two sides focused on discussing the next step of the Neder-French-led strategic project, including European drones, new fighter aircraft of the Future Air Combat System (FCAS), new tanks of the main ground combat system (MGCS), tiger armed helicopter gunships, etc.
Merkel said that more European partners are welcome to join the above-mentioned project and work with Germany and France to safeguard European security.
According to Merkel, Germany and France have specifically discussed the next task allocation of the “future air combat system”, and the defense ministers of the two countries should implement the order contract as soon as possible for submission to the Bundestag and the Budget Committee for review.
Merkel stressed that although the development of new fighter aircraft is led by France, the participation of German industry must be guaranteed. Merkel expects that the two sides will reach a consensus on the above issues in the next few weeks.
In contrast, Macron did not respond positively to the issue of German participation, but called on the two countries to work together to maximize efficiency. However, Macron also hopes that the two sides can sign the agreement this spring.
In response, analysts pointed out that the federal election in Germany in September this year will make the budget review of related projects more variable, and the French, German and Spanish enterprises involved in the development also have differences on the division of labor, and there is a tendency to rise to the macro-level national game.
Referring to the situation that remains worrying in the Sahel region of Africa, Merkel stressed that the Sahel region in Africa is of strategic importance to Europe, and Germany and France, which already have troops on the ground, should continue to work to improve the security situation in the relevant areas.
Merkel also promised that Germany will continue to strengthen troop training in Mali and Niger.
Finally, Merkel pointed out that if Europe wants to maintain unity, Europe must need a unified defense and security policy.
In her view, Germany’s “strategic guidance” developed to strengthen European operational capacity can help countries coordinate their actions within the framework of NATO.
It is reported that the “German-French Defense and Security Commission” mechanism was established as early as 1998.
But with the signing of the “new Elysee Treaty” by the leaders of the German and French governments in the German border city of Aachen in early 2019, the two countries promised to further strengthen cooperation in decision-making in the field of defense and security.
It is worth mentioning that in view of the recent criticism in Europe for the ordering and supply of coronavirus vaccines, Merkel and Macron jointly spoke at a joint press conference on February 5 to defend Europe’s unified vaccine procurement policy.
Merkel insists that Europe “has made the right decisions on fundamental issues, both in the past and now.”
Macron also stressed that France fully supports the path chosen by Europe, retorting: “Imagine that if France and Germany were in a competitive position when purchasing vaccines, it would only be chaotic and counterproductive.” Meanwhile, Macron pointed out that over time, the EU will get more and more coronavirus vaccines.
He called on Europe to accelerate the process of vaccine production, and promised that between April and June, “our vaccination work can go smoothly.”
Macron also had a video link with Soder, president of the German-KSU and Bavarian governor, before his meeting with Merkel.
Soder is a strong contender for the Chancellorship of the German Union Party, and recent polls show that more than half of the Germans are optimistic about him to succeed Merkel. Soder said on February 5 that he and Macron believed that Europe should speed up decision-making.
The data shows that as of February 5, the proportion of citizens in the EU who have been vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 is slightly more than 3%, which is far lower than that of the rest of the world.
The main reason is that the vaccine is insufficient, and many EU countries have expressed strong dissatisfaction with the implementation of the European Commission’s unified vaccine purchase plan.
In response, European Commission President von der Leyen admitted for the first time to the mistake in purchasing a vaccine, admitting that he did not take much account of the possible challenges in the mass production of vaccines.