Macron pledges big increase in French defense budget

French President Emmanuel Macron will boost defense spending in the coming years to guarantee his country’s domestic security and maintain French military engagement abroad, AP said. Addressing soldiers aboard the assault ship ‘Dixmude’ off the naval base of Toulon, Macron promised to increase spending by €1.8 billion ($2.2 billion) this year to €34.2 billion ($42 billion). He also pledged to bring defense spending to 2 percent of GDP - from around 1.8 percent currently - by 2025, in a move aimed at “stopping the erosion of our military capacity.” Six months ago, a crisis erupted over cuts in the military budget, which led to the appointment of a new chief of staff of the armed forces. Macron has now said the financial effort was “unprecedented.”